When Genevieve Piturro noticed children didn't have pajamas at
the shelter in Harlem where she volunteered, she decided to bring
new pajamas on her next visit. She was astounded when a little girl
who was about 7 looked at the pajamas and then timidly asked what
they were. From that simple question, the Pajama Program was
THE PAJAMA PROGRAM
Children taken from their homes in a crisis often find
themselves in a shelter with nothing more than the clothes on their
back. Realizing this, Piturro began asking friends and relatives
for donations of new pajamas. As the donations rolled in-more than
350,000 in the past eight years-she expanded the program. Currently
the program operates in 41 states.
In Illinois, more than 150 different agencies receive donations
of new pajamas several times a year. The agencies include group
homes where children are awaiting foster care or adoption, domestic
abuse and homeless shelters, and orphanages.
"These are kids who are put in a life situation they didn't ask
for. They're vulnerable and scared," says Shirlee Yeary, Illinois
chapter president of the Pajama Program. "When they receive the
pajamas, the reaction is pure joy."
The Pajama Program operates year-round and is always looking for
donations of new pajamas, size infant to 16, or money to buy
pajamas. There is especially a need for pajamas for older
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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