Back to LearnGive for COVID-19 Relief

Cradles to Crayons

Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school, and at play. We supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities

COVID-19 Response

The critical stage of Cradles to Crayons lies in the Giving Factory where volunteers converge to package the donations and to prepare them for distribution to local community partners. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, C2C suspended all volunteer activities at the Giving Factory. However, C2C has continued to support its partners by providing emergency and everyday essential donations. This effort is supported by the Emergency Essentials Fund to continue to provide children with products like diapers, hygiene items, and school supplies.


Cradles to Crayons is a non-profit organization that works towards providing children from low income backgrounds with clothes and other essentials that are not supported by government safety-net programs. Cradles to crayons receives donations from local clothing drives and corporate donations, packages these donations with the help of volunteers at their “Giving Factory”, and finally distributes the packaged essentials to community partner organizations. Cradles to Crayons began in Boston in 2002 and now operates nationally in three cities Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago. Cradles to Crayons uses evidence on national poverty and knowledge of governmental social-assistance programs to construct a model that does not overlap in areas of support that children under the age of 12 may need. They are also situated in a critical position of a supply chain by collecting donations and distributing packaged resources to community organizations in the cities they operate within.


Cradles to Crayons defines its success by providing children clothing and other resources not provided through social programs, with donations received from their network. C2C is effective because it acknowledges the “middle ground” in which the non-profit operates. They have set up a network on the receiving side, as well as on the distribution side to reinforce the supply chain. C2C also has three different types of programs (Specialty Items, Kidpack, and Backpack). The scope of these three programs focuses on assisting community partners and children in a variety of ways to limit the possibility of overlap. Since its inception in 2002, C2C has partnered with 473 agencies, worked with over 420,000 volunteers, and has served over 1.7 million children.


Cradles to Crayons has operated for nearly 20 years (2002). The organization has shown a positive operating margin over the past three tax years between $10,000 and $200,000. Their CEO and much of their leadership has been in place over several years. The Board is identified on their website. The organization has expanded to several other cities outside of Boston, and is structured with a national organization (based out of Boston), and local chapters (each with their own Executive Director).

Excellence in Management and Operations

As a national non-profit organization, the leadership team of C2C is focused on policies and programming that impact three distinctly different cities. Acknowledging the reach of their impact, C2C also boasts a board of directors for each city that it operates within, along with a national board of directors. The founder, Lynn Margherio operates as the CEO along with a CFO, COO, a national VP of Human Resources, and a VP for External Affairs. There is also an Executive Director designated for each city. With this robust model of national and local leadership, C2C ensures that the national image of the organization remains consistent, while also adapting to the nuances and critical differences presented by each city.