INMAN — Inman Elementary School isn't a stranger to lending a helping hand.

Last Friday, the elementary school collected over 80 pounds of crayons, which was enough for 400 kids in hospitals, through The Crayon Initiative. The initiative is located in California and corresponds with Wesley Medical Center in Wichita and Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

"What the initiative does is it recycles used and unwanted crayons for preserving the environment. They melt them down, recycle them and give them to children in hospitals," said Jo McFadden, principal of the elementary school.

When this initiative was brought to McFadden's attention by a parent, Faith Penner, she immediately thought of her FAB Families.

"Each adult in the school has a family that is made up of a kindergartener, a first grader, second grader, third grader, fourth grader, fifth grader and a sixth grader. We meet with our families once a month and I thought this would be a great FAB Family activity for them to do together," she added.

Once the idea was set in stone, McFadden, teachers, staff and Penner worked around the clock to gather as many crayons as possible.

"We started getting the word out that we were collecting crayons. We had a bucket out on our front entryway at the school and Penner contacted restaurants. Then on Friday, we set up boxes in the gyms and the kids came down for about 15 minutes apiece and sorted crayons like crazy into boxes by color," McFadden said.

Each year, McFadden tries to implement new community service practices to keep her students enthusiastic and interested in helping others.

"We try to mix it up each year and do different community projects. I don't like to do the same things all the time and I want to give them exposure of different things," she said.

As Inman Elementary School often lends their service to others, McFadden always makes sure there is a lesson behind it all.

"I always try to make things a lesson or teach them a lesson or even teach them compassion and how we care to give back to our community. I also try to make it a big deal when the kids do something like this and tell them to pat themselves on the back. I try to make it a big deal of how much we can make a difference and how much we can help others around us," she said.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.