It's not often that my family goes out to eat, but when we do, we always go to a kid-friendly restaurant where my son is usually handed a piece of paper and some crayons. This happened last weekend when my son decided he wanted to be awake at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. We couldn't get John to go back to sleep and didn't want to wake the people who live above us, so we went out to an all-night diner for breakfast where John was given crayons with his kid's menu.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the crayons left behind at the restaurant after you finish your meal? The answer is that more often than not, they're thrown away which seems like a pretty big waste, right? I know that crayons are cheap and I know that a lot of times they're thrown out because of hygiene issues, but there's got to be something they can be used for instead of just clogging up our landfills, right?

Well, since 2011, The Crayon Initiative has collected more than 20 million crayons from businesses all around the United States. What they do is melt the crayons down, remold them, and then donate the new crayons to children's hospitals.

The process begins with businesses placing a box in their establishment in which crayons can be dropped off by parents or by employees. Once full, the box is sent to The Crayon Initiative where volunteers carefully peel the labels off the crayons. Next, the crayons are melted, remolded, and then given to sick kids.

The Crayon Initiative has a pretty big goal for this year. They want to be able to donate 200,000 packs of crayons to sick kids but they can't do it alone.

If your favorite restaurant isn't saving their crayons for The Crayon Initiative, or if you own or run a restaurant, work in a school, or for a community or youth organization and want to participate, the Crayon Initiative would love to have you. Learn how to join the initiative here.

[via Crayon Iniative]