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Lehigh Valley Local News

Crayola contributes $100K to Easton area nonprofits

Brian Myszkowski
Denny the crayon stands at the forefront of Crayola employees and Lehigh Valley nonprofits following the Crayola United Way $100,000 Challenge on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

EASTON, Pa. — Philanthropic Crayola employees projected a rainbow of giving when they teamed up with the United Way to distribute grants to Lehigh Valley nonprofits Wednesday morning.

As part of the Crayola United Way $100K Challenge, the Easton-based crayon company invited some of their top fundraising employees to distribute grants to local United Way nonprofit partners.

The snowfall coming down outside the Crayola headquarters called attention to the charitable side of the holiday season. Conversely, the chilly weather also served as a reminder that contributions to local organizations go a long way toward helping those in need.

During the fourth annual Crayola United Way $100K Challenge, 20 employees were selected to pick their favorite nonprofit to receive a $5,000 grant.

This year marked the fourth annual Crayola United Way $100,000 Challenge, which raised about $1.4 million in total.

“A big part of our campaign is trying to add fun and excitement and innovation to it. And one of those innovations is the $100,000 challenge. And how it works is, when an employee signs up to give to the United Way, they get entered into a raffle, and 20 winners, they get to donate $5,000 each to a charitable organization of their choice,” Crayola President and CEO Rich Wuerthele said, adding it was the first year that they were able to bring everyone together for the event.

Recipients included Safe Harbor of Easton, Equi-librium, Domestic Violence Service Center, Miller-Keystone Blood Center, Mikayla’s Voice, American Red Cross of Pennsylvania Rivers, Third Street Alliance for Women & Children, Resilient Lehigh Valley (United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley), United Way of Northern Arkansas, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Boy Scouts of America Minsi Trail Council, Vet Beds, Project of Easton, Easton Area Community Center, and The Foundation for the Bethlehem Area School District.

Another five recipients will be awarded their grants in the near future, Crayola associates said.

“So today, we're here to celebrate — we have 100,000 reasons to celebrate, and to say thank you yet again. At United Way we have a passion for connecting people to the causes that they care about. And this grant challenge is such a bold and creative and fun way to give back to the community. It inspires people to get hands-on and really to get involved, and we'd expect nothing less from our most colorful and our most innovative partner here at Crayola,” United Way President David Lewis said.

Lewis heralded the nonprofits as “building shelters for families and veterans experiencing homelessness,” “working with our youth to help them achieve success in school,” “building connections with older adults” and “tackling the mental health epidemic that is increasingly affecting kids, adults and seniors all over the region and across the country.”

Crayola Chief Operating Officer Pete Ruggiero applauded the charitable nature of the company’s employees, not only with the $100,000 Challenge but being generous with their own time as well.

“Not only do our employees give generously financially, but we also gave 12,000 hours of our time last year to the community. And David would say that it's a very proud moment, whatever event we go to, there's always a Crayolian – we call ourselves Crayolians – present there. So we're very, very, very grateful for all of that,” Ruggiero said.

Employees were emphatic in their support for local community organizations, and being able to see the very real results of their contributions, whether financial or otherwise.

Brian Myszkowski
Resource coordinator for Crayola’s logistics facility Patty Bachman, center, chose ProJeCt of Easton to receive a $5,000 grant as part of the Crayola United Way $100,000 Challenge.

“Miller-Keystone Blood Center saves lives. I want to contribute to that mission and help others in my community,” Crayola machine operator Joanne Higgins said when asked why she selected their organization as her beneficiary.

ProJeCt of Easton Director of Development Keith Lampman-Perlman said his organization was humbled to be selected for a grant by the resource coordinator for Crayola’s logistics facility and “new friend” Patty Bachman.

“It really is amazing how far $5,000 can go. We do several different programs, including early childhood education and literacy programs that help people in our community learn how to read and write and speak English; English as a second language is huge for us,” Lampman-Perlman said.

“We also do GED programs to help people obtain their GED, and [there is] our Fowler Literacy Center on Ferry Street. And while those, parents very often, sometimes single parents, are in school, their children are being taken care of and also are learning English in our early childhood education center on Ferry Street.”

Bachman commended Lampman-Perlman for his organization’s efforts in the community, recognizing the impact they make throughout Easton and beyond.

“I live in the Easton area and I see a lot of good work that ProJeCt of Easton does. They do the food banks. We do the Summer SIZZLE program for the children at Paxinosa, and also the literacy program. I work with a lot of immigrants from other countries and I see the challenge they have here, and I think it's a very good thing that you guys do,” Bachman said, addressing Lampman-Perlman.

Director of Development for Third Street Alliance for Women and Children Beth Archer said both Crayola and the United Way were integral partners to her agency, and shared a strong enthusiasm for receiving not one, but two grants for the Third Street Alliance.

“We have a program in which we are helping to rehouse unhoused women and children, and that is a great, great drop in the bucket of helping to help them pay for their costs to move in. We have a program where we help pay rent, we help pay deposits, and then we get them stable,” Archer said.

“And then we pull back on the support that we give them so they have a chance to kind of get some money in the bank, get them that get their feet underneath them, get their children in school, and then once they're making their own money, that money goes to the next person. It’s a lot, you know, we nonprofits stretch the dollar.”

Crayola Assistant Buyer Bonnie Zucal said she selected Third Street Alliance for their extensive endeavors which help the most vulnerable people in the community.

“Who wouldn't want to donate to such a good cause? A lot of women and children are in distress and it's paramount that we protect them and support them and make sure that we have a place for them to go, especially around the holidays. I support this community and organization 100 percent,” Zucal said.