year 2, week 40: this week i'm gonna... give a child a good night's sleep
“What are pajamas?” asked Maria, a young girl living in a shelter who was holding a pair of pajamas for the first time.
That was back in 2001, when Genevieve Piturro discovered that the children she read to at a local shelter did not have a pair of warm, comforting pajamas to change into or a storybook to enjoy, or sometimes even a caring adult to tuck them into bed each night.
“When I was reading to the kids and we were finished... the staff would say, ‘Time to go to bed,’” Genevieve told Oprah during a 2007 TV interview. “And they didn’t have anything to change into.”
Genevieve remembered her own bedtime ritual growing up. “...(M)y mom sitting at the edge of my bed, my sister’s bed, my brother’s bed telling us stories, putting on pajamas -- all of a sudden that instant bonding, security, comfort, love rushed back and it was empty in this room for these children,” she says.
Genevieve asked one of the shelter workers if next time she volunteered she could bring in pajamas. The response? "That would be great. Nobody thinks of that; nobody gives pajamas.”
With bags full with new pajamas and storybooks, Genevieve returned to the shelter to ensure all of the children there would enjoy a cozy bedtime.
It was clear that Genevieve had found a significant need that had to be filled, and thus the Pajama Program was born. “We try to give them a hug this way… with clean, cozy pajamas and a book to ease their fears before they close their eyes,” Genevieve says.
To date, Pajama Program has given almost 3 million pajamas and over 2.2 million books to children in need. Pajama Program serves children in every state from their headquarters in New York City, and through 60 chapters across 33 states. In thousands of shelters, group homes, and temporary housing, the new pajamas and books they provide serve as daily - and nightly - symbols of caring, security, and love.
Pajama Program also works with more than 3,600 receiving organizations (ROs) nationwide to help distribute pajamas and books to children. These organizations include Title I schools, group homes, foster care and social service organizations, shelters, Head Start programs, and other organizations that work with at-risk youth.
The Pajama Program Good Night Bill of Rights highlights the Pajama Program mission and what they believe is important in a child’s day. The five simple principles help Pajama Program deliver a loving bedtime and a good night’s sleep to children everywhere:
1. Every child has the right to a sense of stability and security.
2. Every child has the right to feel loved and cared for at bedtime.
3. Every child has the right to wear clean pajamas to bed and to enjoy a bedtime story.
4. Every child has the right to feel valued and validated as a human being.
5. Every child has the right to a good night and a good day.
To learn more about Pajama Program, please watch the video below.
Pajamas become especially critical when the weather turns cooler. Not only for their warmth, but for the comfort and security they bring. Fall and winter can be beautiful times of the year, but for children in need, it can come with dread; with shelter uncertain, anxiety builds as the temperatures drop. Not knowing what tomorrow will bring makes it difficult to feel comfortable at bedtime and to to have a restful night of sleep.
October 1st marks the start of "Danger Season", a time of year when temperatures fall and children in shelters are more vulnerable than usual. Many have been abused or abandoned and taken away from their homes and schools. Often, these children have never received an unconditional gift, much less something to call their very own.
“A new pair of pajamas, a pretty book to look through... we hope and pray it just puts their fears aside for a few minutes and lets them dream again,” states Genevieve.
Notes for this week:
- October marks the beginning of "Danger Season," when the weather gets colder and children need sleepwear to stay warm at night.
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor 75 new pairs of warm, comforting pajamas and 75 storybooks to support every child's right to a good night for a good day.
- For more information on Pajama Program, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Pajama Program.