For many children bedtime means snuggling up in cozy pajamas and reading a favorite bedtime story. Yet for youngsters in need, even something as basic as curling up with a good book in comfy jammies can be wishful thinking.
For the past six years, to make life a bit better for children living in shelters locally, Harker’s lower school has held donation drives for the Pajama Program, a nationally run nonprofit organization dedicated to providing new pajamas and books to kids waiting to be adopted.
The school recently donated hundreds of pairs of pajamas and five boxes of books to the program which this year ran from Jan. 7-18. While the exact final numbers are still being counted, Pallie Zambrano, co-president of the Pajama Program’s Northern and Central California chapter, reported that this year’s drive brings Harker’s total donations to more than 2,000 pairs of pajamas and 2,400 books.
The Bucknall campus pajama and book drive is held during the heart of winter, when needy children especially want to keep warm. This year, Harker students donated a range of books and pajamas (with the tags still on) in sizes ranging from toddler through young adult. Although the drive was primarily a grade 3 service project, all elementary school families were invited to participate by dropping off donated items in a designated area in the gym’s lobby.
Meanwhile, the students’ homeroom teachers explained how much their donations would benefit children who are less fortunate. Parents were also encouraged to help their children become involved in the project by taking them to the store to pick out donation items themselves.
The much beloved program began six years ago at the suggestion of Rishi Narain, a former lower school student and current freshman at the upper school. He got the idea for the project when he was in grade 3, after watching the “Oprah” show. The show’s guest that day was Genevieve Piturro, founder of the Pajama Program. Watching her discuss it motivated Narain to bring the cause to Harker, where he helped organize the inaugural donation drive, which went on to become an annual occurrence.
Kathy Ferretti, a grade 3 teacher who has been involved with the program since its inception, called the project a wonderful example of how one student has the power to make a difference. In fact, she noted that Sarah Leonard, primary school head, still has the original letter that Narain wrote with his suggestion to collect donations for the Pajama Program.
“This was the sixth year in a row that Harker has held a drive and we are so grateful for the continued support. We love working with children to help other children!” enthused Zambrano.
“Our third graders love to read and be read to, especially at bedtime. It’s something they look forward to with pleasure. They hope that by participating in the pajama and book drive more children will be able to enjoy this experience, too,” added Ferretti.
To learn more about about the Pajama Program, visit their website at www.pajamaprogram.org.