Name: Jacob Elliot Cohen
School: Sig Rogich Middle School –
Las Vegas, Nevada
Synagogue and scheduled date of bar mitzvah: Temple Chai in Phoenix on March 11
Describe your mitzvah project: The Crayon Initiative organizes crayon collections that take unwanted crayons, remanufactures them and provides them to hospitals that care for children. Hospital arts’ programs provide in-hospital entertainment and learning programs.
The wax from crayons is not biodegradable and will never break down, leaving a waxy sludge in our landfills for centuries to come, according to the program’s website, thecrayoninitiative.org. The Crayon Initiative supports environmental efforts by diverting crayons from the landfills, collecting unwanted crayons from restaurants, schools, as well as other locations, and recycling them into new ones. Annually, over 500,000 pounds of broken crayons are discarded in landfills throughout the country.
What inspired you to do this project? I love art! Coloring, drawing, painting. When we first saw the Crayon Initiative on a TV news show, my whole family got excited. My mom has always bought crayons for us and we had bins and bins of them. I thought it would be a great idea to collect them and have them reused for kids that are in the hospital. To see a recent news video about the project, visit bit.ly/crayonproject.
Why did you choose to work with this organization? I like that they recycled a product that we all love and is giving children the chance to love them as I do.
When did you start the project and how long will it last? I have been thinking about it since I was 12. I received the collection boxes, made signs and had my mom post on her Facebook page. I am getting ready to send in three boxes of crayons that I have collected so far. This is really never ending! We have friends in New York and Florida that are also donating and hope to always get the word out. People can send in their crayons right to the foundation.
Describe the work you’ve had to do to complete the project: I contacted the organization and they were really happy to send me the donation boxes. Then through social media (Facebook), we asked for donations at Temple Chai in Phoenix as well as in Las Vegas. There was arranging for the collection boxes, preparing and printing up a flier to have next to the collection so people would understand the program. Then broadcasting it on social media and collections. Now I will be boxing them up and shipping them off!
How do you hope your project will affect the people it’s designed to benefit? Happiness! Everyone is happy when they can color. The recycled melted crayons go to children in hospitals. They need something to make them smile!
Will you continue to be involved with the project, even after your bar/bat mitzvah? Yes! I would love to visit the organization someday and see how it all works up close.
What have you learned from the project? Something as simple as a crayon, that we all have laying around, can be made into something so special. We used to toss broken and old crayons away – we won’t do that anymore for sure.