RANDOLPH TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – Class of 2017 alumna Kayla Legatt founded the nonprofit Color for a Cauze to help “brighten the world one crayon at a time.” When she was 11-years-old at Randolph Middle School, she had an idea to take donations of broken crayons and melt them down into heart shapes which could be donated and sold with the profits going to charitable organizations.
Over the years, Kayla has remained in contact with the district and is donating some of her heart shaped crayons to elementary students in Randolph. We caught up with Kayla to learn more about her charitable work and to find out more about what her life has been like since graduating from RHS.
To date, Color for a Cauze has made over 20,000 heart shaped crayons and generated thousands of dollars in donations. Kayla’s determination at such a young age shows that anyone can find ways to make a difference. “I had old and broken extra crayons and I didn’t want to throw them away. I found a heart mold and melted down the crayons to create crayon hearts. I gave them to my friends and family. They were so excited that it motivated me to want to do more with the project,” Kayla said. “I started to make more selling them at local craft shows and we went global in 2016 delivering to different orphanages in Thailand and Guatemala.”
During her community service trip to Thailand in 2016, she helped teach orphans English through lessons on fruits and vegetables. “We brought coloring books and gave them the crayons and asked questions like “what fruit is this,” and then asked them to color it the right color,” Kayla said. “It was great to see the students after the lesson coloring the fruits and vegetables the right color because many of the fruits and vegetables we taught them about were not fruits or vegetables they had heard of or seen before. We stayed at the orphanage for a few days, and it was incredible to be able to spend time with them and show them love.”
When Kayla was a senior in high school, she had the opportunity to work with Shongum Elementary students. “Ms. Murray who’s a 3rd grade teacher at Shongum was actually my 2nd grade teacher. I worked with her class teaching them about philanthropy and the importance of giving back at a young age,” Kayla said. “I wanted young students to know that it’s totally possible to make a difference, and the class helped me peel crayons and we sold them at Shongum. We actually raised enough money to sponsor seeing eye dog training which is really expensive. The class was able to see that the impact they were making was able to help someone in need. I have worked with Ms. Murray’s class a few times since then as well as brownie troops to teach children that they can make an impact at any age.”
Kayla is currently a senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She is a member of Alpha Xi Delta Women’s Fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, a University Advancement Student Ambassador, and a member of the Society of Women Engineers. In addition, she has a strong passion for rowing and is captain of the rowing team. Kayla will conclude her senior year earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just four years. Her bachelor’s degree will be in Management Engineering with a concentration in Industrial Engineering. Her master’s degree will be in Supply Chain Management. “Receiving two degrees was my goal because I have a variety of different interests in different categories. I wanted to study both science and math. I was able to figure out how to earn both degrees with credits I had come in with freshman year as well as study abroad experiences I had. I studied abroad my freshman summer in London where I was able to take additional classes. I was also able to overload my schedule a few times which made this possible, so in the end it was definitely worth it.”
Kayla has already accepted a full-time job in August working for PepsiCo at the plant that makes Stacy’s Pita Chips as a Supply Chain Engineer. She is excited by the opportunity to work with a large organization with tremendous potential personally and professionally. “I really like how the process of things work. I am really excited for the opportunity to see how I can make processes at the facility more efficient and effective, as well as learn about the whole process that leads into distribution,” Kayla said. “I actually completed an internship at PepsiCo last summer virtually. It was very different from how I would normally perceive they would have interns. Since I was attending from my childhood bedroom, I learned through presentations of modules and related experiences. Attending virtually actually allowed me to meet with people from the entire company which was a huge advantage that I may not otherwise have had which was really cool.”
Kayla has grown up to be an incredibly successful leader and role model. However, she wants her legacy to be one that doesn’t end with her. She believes that through efforts of good will, other people can learn the importance of charity and compassion.
“I’ve always liked to give back and my parents have always instilled in me the importance of doing that. Even during this time, they have been trying to give back to any organizations that are struggling and I remember seeing them do similar things when I was younger. I remember thinking about what I could do to be more like them,” Kayla said.
“Being able to help the community and put smiles on people’s faces is something that makes me incredibly happy and I want other people to understand the value that there is in kindness. I often reflect back on my experience working with Ms. Murray’s class. On National Crayon Day, I gave each student two crayons. One of the crayons was for them to keep, and the other was for someone who may need a little brightening in their day. Almost every student in the class gave their crayons away. They were just so excited to give and help other people. One of the students had a grandparent who wasn’t doing well and three of the kids gave him a crayon. Every student really started to give selflessly, and it was so rewarding to watch young people learn the value of giving back. I hope that experience has helped them become better individuals for the rest of their lives and I believe that’s what giving back is all about. When you do something kind for someone else, it creates a ripple effect. I hope that people realize that you can find ways to use your life at any age to help others and make our world a better place,” Kayla said.
To learn more about Color For A Cauze, click here.