BLACKSTONE – Melissa Reggio, 16, a Millville, Mass., resident and junior at Mount Saint Charles Academy, recently collected and donated more than 500 boxes of Crayola “Colors of the World” crayons to students in the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District in an effort to promote diversity and encourage students to be themselves as they return to class this fall.

Reggio said she was inspired after having conversations with her mom about diversity in the community. The daughter of Jane and Nick Reggio, she attended BMR Schools from kindergarten through 5th grade.

“I feel like art is something that brings a lot of children together, so it would be a good way to understand diversity,” she said.

In June, Reggio used her mother’s Facebook page to put out a call for Crayola “Colors of the World” crayons, which feature skin tone shades from around the world. Gathering donations from family and friends across the country, she collected 504 boxes of crayons along with markers, colored pencils, traditional crayons and coloring books.

“It exceeded my expectations so much. My personal goal was 500 in total. I’m really grateful for everybody who donated,” she said.

Reggio, who hopes to pursue a career in business, said she’s taken art classes through most of her years at Mount and thinks it’s a good way to encourage students to create art that reflects not only themselves but people of all races. She said she’d like to see all students have the ability to create a vision of themselves and not be limited by skin tone choices.

“I wanted to try and think of a way that the students could be welcomed back and be encouraged to bring their creative, unique selves to the school and classroom. It was important to me that my ‘welcome’ be inclusive and supportive of all students in the early elementary grades,” she said.

Reggio said the principals at both John F. Kennedy/Augustine F. Maloney and Millville Elementary Schools were supportive of the project. The crayons will be used in art class and may also be given to students to take home, she said.

“I just hope that this project has inspired other people to embrace their creativity,” she added.

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