"If a LOT of people collect just one box of crayons or one coloring book, we can make a bunch of kids happier."
When 10-year-old Bethany Kuster heard that a fourth grade class in Alabama couldn't afford markers and crayons, she knew she had to do something to help get them some.
Bethany says she loves to color because it helps her get her feelings out and there's no wrong way to do it. She couldn't stand the thought of other kids not being able to do the same.
Mr. Kupec, Bethany's teacher at the time, encouraged her to enlist the help of her classmates, and her brothers helped her make a PowerPoint presentation outlining her plan to have people donate markers and crayons. "It explained what I wanted to do to help others and I told them that it would be fun (it's always fun to be kind)," explained Bethany in an email.
And boy did it work.
Everyone in her class stepped up, and in no time at all, they had crates filled with markers and crayons for the fourth grade class in need.
But Bethany didn't stop there. She approached her principals about rallying the rest of the school to collect coloring tools, and soon, Bethany's message was spreading like wildfire through her small town in Pennsylvania. Several local businesses donated — even the garbage men brought her boxes full of markers and crayons.
"It has been unbelievable to see the amount of support she has been given, the number of times people have simply said YES to helping a ten-year-old make the world a little bit happier for other kids," wrote Bethany's mom, Rachel.
The amazing experience inspired Bethany to start Color for Kids — a nonprofit designed to help bring coloring tools to kids all over the country, and eventually the world.
"If a LOT of people collect just one box of crayons or one coloring book, we can make a bunch of kids happier," wrote Bethany.
Bethany has personally visited schools, soup kitchens, and shelters in Philadelphia and New York City, and she has sent boxes filled with coloring supplies all over the country.
She's even managed to get them to 29 kids in Nepal who were rescued from child trafficking, thanks to a partnership with Next Generation Nepal.
So far, Bethany has collected and donated 106,702 crayons, 19,734 markers, and 26,000 colored pencils.
(Anyone else feel incredibly lazy after reading that?) If all this wasn't impressive enough, Bethany took it upon herself to make Color for Kids an official nonprofit, including raising the money and contacting a lawyer to help her with the paperwork.
It took a while to save up enough, but Bethany was diligent about it, and last month, she received a notice from the IRS that Color for Kids is now an officially designated 501(c)(3) organization. That's a pretty huge deal because, as Bethany put it, "that means more businesses can donate now, even Crayola!" She plans to write to the crayon-making giant to let them know, but probably next week, since this week is a "very busy week."
Needless to say, Bethany's long-term goals for Color for Kids are lofty but, based on her track record, totally feasible.
"Well, the very best thing ever would be if every single kid in the world had their own art supplies but I know that the world is very big and that would take a very long time. So I am just going to do as much as I can," Bethany wrote.
She'd also like to create her own coloring book for boys and girls of all ages because, according to her, it's really hard to find one that everyone likes.
No doubt Bethany's going to continue to change the world for the better. In the meantime, however, her work shows us just how powerful the small seed of a brilliant idea to give back can be and that, sometimes, that's all you need to make a huge difference.