Health Center Teams Up Helping Children Flourish

Leslie Villanueva, age 10, receives a brand new backpack filled with school supplies from Medical Assistant Teresa Vasquez from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s Family Medicine Department.

This past week the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s pediatrics department teamed up with Cradles to Crayons— a nonprofit in Brighton that provides disadvantaged children with items that children need to flourish—to get Eastie children ready for school.

Cradles to Crayons donated dozens of backpacks and school supplies to the EBNHC that were later distributed to children in the neighborhood just in time for the school year.

Last year, Cradles to Crayons provided, free of charge, packages of clothes, shoes, books, toys, baby safety equipment and school supplies to 48,000 children in Massachusetts and the Philadelphia area.

Working in close partnership with social workers at places like the EBNHC, nurses, teachers, and therapists, Cradles to Crayons has become a resource to children and families in need.

The non-profit began in December 2000 by Lynn Margherio after she visited her brother and sister in Michigan.

Margherio, a Boston-based business and public-policy consultant who had recently spent several years in Washington working with the Clinton administration —was helping her niece get dressed one morning and noticed clothes with price tags still on them that her niece had already grown out of.


During that same trip she visited her brother’s house and while working on an arts and crafts project with his kids she saw piles of toys that were hardly played with.

“It looked like our own personal Toys R Us,” she said.

And while there were endless toys to play with she realized that her nieces and nephews gravitated to only a few favorite trucks or games or puzzles or dollhouses.

There were also presents still in wrapping paper that were inside closets,” she said.

At that moment an idea came to Margherio.

“I thought what if all of these like-new or never-used children’s things could find their way into the homes of other boys and girls—kids who really needed them,” she said.

Once back in Boston Margherio began taking steps to form her own non-profit. She visited schools and community groups to see if they would be willing collect unused children’s goods.

She then began reaching out to shelters and health centers to see if they had the resources to help families meet basic needs like clothing and if they could benefit from a non-profit that collected these items for them.

She then used some extra space in her consulting office to store donations that she collected in a rented truck from area schools and community centers.

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