Aubree’s and Crayon Initiative change students, patients, and the environment


Aubree’s Pizzeria and Grill partnered with non-profit Crayon Initiative and local schools to promote the importance of recycling and giving back. Marketing manager Adriane De Ceuninck thought recycling crayons would benefit the restaurant industry, and she knew just who to call to help collect them.

“I was trying to figure out a way to tie in some of our local schools and do a good activity for the community (as well as) for the schools in our areas.” De Ceuninck said. “I reached out to my son’s school first to run the idea by them. They thought it was great.”

The service project became a contest between the pre-K through fifth-graders in Southwest Elementary. Every student who recycled crayons was awarded a coupon for a free kids meal at Aubree’s. The winning fourth grade received a pizza party provided by Aubree’s. Schools across Michigan including Adrian, Ypsilanti, and Marquette have also participated.

““For (our) first time, we really had no idea what kind of response we would get.” De Ceuninck said. “(We didn’t know whether or not) the kids would get engaged with it. But the kids really got into it. They were announcing their contest on their morning news and my son would come home every day (and say) ‘I think second grade (is) in first place. No, I think fourth grade (is) in first’. It’s a fun activity that really promotes recycling and being responsible.”

Crayon Initiative collects crayons from restaurants, schools, and homes. They sort them by color, melt them down, and put them into molds to create new crayons. The new crayons are then distributed to hospitals across the country. Michigan hospitals include Kalamazoo’s Bronson Hospital, University of Michigan Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. When the crayons reach the children, they are free to be creative and make art during their extended stays at the hospital.

“Our students felt so proud to be able to help others with this contest.” Southwest art teacher Susan Piro said. “The combined positive outcomes of helping our environment by keeping crayons out of landfills and providing new crayons to kids in children’s hospitals was a big motivator for them.”