Colors4Change: assuaging the dichotomy between the rich and the poor


Provided by Anya Acharya

Students in India coloring with the crayons received through the Colors4Change program.

Sanchali Pandey, Staff Writer

A whopping 150 million good-to-use crayons are discarded annually by restaurants in the United States. What’s even worse is that because these crayons are not environmentally friendly; they turn into a waxy sludge that cogs up landfills and never biodegrades, which in turn causes pollution, blocks drains and harms animals. Luckily, Colors4Change—a teen-led nonprofit locally based in Naperville, Illinois—has a creative solution. 

Founded by Anaisa Acharya (a current freshman in college and a former Neuqua alumna), Colors4Change sprung from her passion to contribute to a greater cause and help those in need. Anya Acharya, the current president of The Illinois Chapter of Colors 4Change (this organization has also expanded to New Jersey), is a Neuqua Valley freshman and the younger sister of Anaisa. 

She explains that it all started when “for [her] sister’s sixteenth birthday, she decided to, instead of receiving gifts, ask everyone to bring monetary donations to send to this nonprofit in India called Ekjut, which is something [their family] is affiliated with.” Ekjut strives to improve maternal and child health. 

The next day, “[their] family was thinking, since Ekjut is kind of more focused on women and children, what’s something more that [they] could send to the children that isn’t a necessity but something that they would really enjoy and love? So then [they] came up with coloring supplies because children love to color.” 

In regards to deciding where to ship the art supplies as the organization picked up from Ekjut, “[they] focus on underprivileged places that are local and easier to find and easier to contact because of the same timezone and layout… but other than that, it’s all about really networking and connections all around the world. You know, like family members who are in India will help you find places and they’ll help you contact them and then with shipping.” 

A vast number of underprivileged facilities (i.e. poor schools, hospitals and orphanages) view the purchase of art supplies as an additional, unnecessary cost, with their priorities being the purchase of basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter. With no creative outlet in sight, children in these marginalized communities often miss out on ways to channel their boundless energy and cultivate their artistic potentials. 

As the distant onlookers who even have the chance to pull out a device of ours and read this article, it is likely that we never have had to experience such deprivation as these young children that are possibly miles far away from us not only in distance but also in perspective. We are—more or less—desensitized to receiving even such luxurious things as new iPhones and Macbooks; meanwhile for these children, receiving even a mere box of crayons can brighten their day tenfold and even possibly change their lives to quite a great extent. 

Seeing these differing perspectives in action, Anya Acharya expresses how “even just dropping off a shipment somewhere local feels great, just knowing that alone how much satisfaction that can bring.” 

It’s this stark contrast between our world and theirs that propels us to not only appreciate what we have—and often take for granted—in our own lives and also further think what we could do to better theirs, thereby bringing the gap between us closer in a small and individual (yet impactful) way. 

One crayon at a time, Colors4Change is steadfastly serving to make a great difference in the world.