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Illing Student Fights Cancer With Crayons

Emily Christensen is a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Illing Middle School who is responsible for something remarkable.

Emily has taken a simple idea -- melting used and broken crayons and morphing them into colorful keepsakes -- and turned it into a fundraising juggernaut.

Since starting this campaign in 2008, Emily and a growing cadre of supporters (including her parents) have raised more than $83,000 to support families coping with cancer.

Crayons for Cancer held a campaign at Illing recently that was capped off Wednesday with a variety of students spending parts of the day in “manufacturing mode” -- making daintily bagged collectibles that will be sold for $1 each during upcoming parent conference days.

“When I started this I thought it would raise, like $20,” Emily said during an afternoon break. “It’s an act of kindness that’s gone a long ways.”

How did this all start? Well, when Emily was 5, a close friend named TJ Brown died of cancer. TJ was just a bit younger.

A few months later, Emily and her parents found themselves in a “pay it forward” campaign through their church. Emily suggested they try to raise money in TJ’s memory by making and selling the crayon-based products, and things quickly took off.

They even have out-of-state partners in Rhode Island, North Carolina and Minnesota. And Emily has received a $10,000 Kohl’s Cares Scholarship that she will be able to use when she attends college.

She said she does not know how long she will stay involved with Crayons For Cancer, but is happy to be doing something so positive in memory of a childhood friend.

“It’s really awesome,” she said.

To see the Crayons for Cancer website, click here and to see the Illing fundraiser flier click here.


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