Medline grant helps provide children with necessities and dignity

Medline grant helps provide children with necessities and dignity

By Medline Newsroom Staff | December 5, 2023

Environmental, Social & Governance

Medline grant helps provide children with necessities and dignity

Cradles to Crayons uses Community Impact Grant to advance economic security

Medline employees packing backpacks for Cradles to Crayons

Throughout the year, about 12,000 volunteers as young as age 5 contribute more than 25,000 hours sorting through donations at the Cradles to Crayons hub of activity called The Giving Factory. It’s where the magic happens. “People compare our warehouse to Ikea,” says Cradles to Crayons Associate Director of Corporate Relations Meghan Doetschman. But this warehouse is chock-full of clothing, hygiene products, diapers and more—and they don’t cost a dime.

Through donations and purchases, 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. A recent $25,000 Community Impact Grant from the Medline Foundation supports the overall mission and needs of nonprofit Cradles to Crayons Chicago.

As the Cradles to Crayons website states, “There are no government programs dedicated to ensuring that children have such basics as clothing or hygiene products. Since 2016, Cradles to Crayons has stepped up to fill this need in Chicago.”

Local partners make the difference

The key to Cradles to Crayons’ operation is their nearly 70 nonprofit partners, including hospitals, boys and girls clubs, YMCAs, homeless shelters and Chicago public schools. “We work directly with those partner agencies, and they work with the children and families in their local communities,” Doetschman explains. Through a detailed ordering system, each agency can request as much as their families need. “Some groups will order in bulk, say, a hundred winter coats in various sizes; or some will order specific sizes, such as 10 outfit packs in size 2T for girls.”

“The grant gives us the flexibility to purchase those most needed items based on the season and based on our priorities.”

Meghan Doetschman

Cradles to Crayons
Associate Director of Corporate Relations

Staff and volunteers fill the orders, and the agencies pick them up or get them delivered. The new Cradles to Crayons Cruiser takes the burden off some of the smaller nonprofits who might have otherwise had a staff member load up their own car. The Cruiser also picks up donations from groups and individuals all around Chicago. “We want to make it even easier for people to donate their gently used or new items,” Doetschman says.

Quality control is crucial

From their first year in 2016 distributing about 40,000 essential packages distributed, Cradles to Crayons now distributes more than 250,000 essential packages each year. But some donated items don’t make the quality cut. The sorting that volunteers do at the Giving Factory is fundamental to Cradles to Crayons’ mission. They weed out anything that’s stained, ripped, ragged or otherwise low quality. It all goes into big red barrels.

“We want to make sure that the items we’re giving are of the highest quality, and that’s for so many reasons,” Doetschman explains, “mostly so that kids are confident and excited to have these items. We want them to feel proud.”  As one of the nonprofit’s motto says, “Quality equals dignity.”

Medline Month of Service volunteers at Cradles to Crayons

Medline employees sorting clothes during a recent event

Plus, another aspect of their mission is sustainability. The Cruiser is all-electric, and all discarded items get a second life, whether at a textile recycling facility or, if it’s just a size too large for their distribution, it might go to Cradles to Crayons’ newest Chicago partner, New Life Centers.

Cradles to Crayons recently distributed its one millionth need package in Chicago, and their reach is continuing to grow. For the winter season, they’re purchasing 35,000 brand new winter coats, plus collecting even more gently used coats from the community, with an overall goal to distribute 50,000 coats this winter. Doetschman says that the Community Impact Grant helps them achieve that. “The grant gives us the flexibility to purchase those most needed items based on the season and based on our priorities,” Doetschman says, adding, “It also allows us to keep our warehouse up and running, to be able to have volunteers help with our critical work and to fulfill and deliver all those orders to our partner agencies.”

“Medline has been a consistent partner to us for a number of years, both financially and through volunteerism and collection drives,” Doetschman notes. “So it’s a holistic partnership that we truly appreciate.”

Read more about the 2023 Medline Community Impact Grant recipients.
Learn more about how Medline is making a difference in our communities.

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Categories: Chicago ESG, Company News, Environmental, Social, and Governance

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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