Cradles to Crayons drive benefits children in need

Having a child can be an intimidating prospect in any number of ways – namely your life’s about to change permanently and the expenses are about to pile up. What if you’re a single mom or don’t have a tight family network or you lose your job? These are realities that Martha Bormann is well aware of, and the resident of the 2400 block of South Chadwick Street is doing her best to help moms and dads across the Philadelphia region struggling with poverty and coming up short on providing their children everything they need.

“I was 29, I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and I found out I was pregnant,” Bormann revealed. “My family was unbelievably generous, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to afford everything a baby needed. I remember having boxes and boxes full of clothes that we came home with from the shower.” She’s one of the lucky ones and her now three-year-old son, Landon, doesn’t want for clean underwear or a winter coat.

“For his first birthday, I decided to do a drive at the party,” she remembered and she brought a haul of eight trash bags to the Cradles to Crayons facility in West Conshohocken. It was there that she knew she had to keep going with the non-profit founded in Boston and spreading to Chicago as a third city this year.

On Monday, Bormann initiated a public drive at the Fumo Family Library Branch, 2437 S. Broad St., that runs through May 5 and asks for new or lightly-used clothes, shoes, art supplies, diapers, baby equipment (strollers, car seats, carriers, etc.), books, toys, coats, and hygiene supplies.

Providing essentials for newborns to 12-year-olds, Cradles to Crayons was conceived when Lynn Margherio, a Boston-based business consultant, visited Michigan for Christmas. Her nieces and nephews were swimming in clothes, toys and books – some clothes her niece refused to wear because it wasn’t pink. In 2006, Jennifer Case helped bring Cradles to Crayons to Philadelphia.

Michal Smith, Cradles to Crayons’ executive director, says they love providing “meaningful volunteer opportunities for individuals like Martha… to actively collect, sort and pack gently-used children’s items… ordered by almost 300 human services agencies in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. When a family is struggling to put food on the table, the relief of having all the items that a child needs relieves stress on hard-pressed lives.” Smith reported helping 70,300 vulnerable children with more than 25,500 volunteers and added that Cradles to Crayons holds an ongoing Old City-situated collection at Silicon Gallery Fine Art Prints, 139 N. Third St., Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from noon until 5 p.m.

Bormann reminds that some of these children are homeless or foster children and that “Philadelphia happens to be an area with a large amount of families in need.” – Bill Chenevert