Jericho High School tends to foster strong community values in its students—even those that are relatively new to the area.
Melissa Chen, a junior at the high school, moved to Jericho three years ago and immediately felt the impact of the school district’s nurturing faculty.
“Out of all the schools I’ve been to, this one works hardest to reach out to every kid,” said Chen, whose family moved six times prior to settling in Jericho. “It’s one of the main reasons we came here and why I hope to stay.”
Besides exercising her love of science at the school, Chen also refined her artistic abilities as well. And her affinity for art has taken her beyond drawing and painting, as it has inspired her to create a charitable endeavor she calls Crayons 4 Charity.
On her charitable website, www.crayons4charity.org, Chen allows young artists to submit artwork. Then, visitors to the site can view the artwork and donate funds to various charities of each artist’s choice. The charities benefiting from her website so far include the ASPCA and the Make A Wish Foundation, among others.
“I wanted to be able to involve children in it,” she said, adding that she used her own allowance money to hire a company to design her site. “It’s difficult for young people to go to an organization and donate their time, so I came up with this idea to give them a chance to help.”
The artwork on the site can be freely enjoyed and downloaded by visitors, who can make a voluntary pledge to the child artist’s charity of choice.
Chen’s mother Betty said her daughter has always been looking for fun and creative ways to help people, no matter where she called home.
“She has volunteered at food pantries benefiting the homeless, but she always wanted to go bigger and help out on a bigger scale,” said Betty. “She loves art and helping others, so this was a really natural combination for her.”
Chen said there were some obstacles along the way, such as finding the right developer and actually drawing a blueprint of her vision for the website. But in the end, she said helping these charities makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“Seeing the website for the first time was unreal,” she said. “I wanted something easy for kids to use, but also fun to be on.”
It is time consuming, but the busy Chen wouldn’t have it any other way. She is currently in an AP science class and recently finalized her senior schedule to include three science classes. She also has a list of dream colleges—a mere 15 she will eventually begin to whittle down.
Jericho packs plenty of ambition in its halls, and Chen is proud to add a charitable effort as well.
To learn more about Crayons 4 Charity and to submit work and donate, visit www.crayons4charity.org.