While eating lunch today, I watched a recorded Oprah Winfrey show on pursuing your calling. One of the people highlighted was Genevieve Piturro who founded the Pajama Program. And what an amazing program it is. Often times, we are reminded of the number of children in foster care, orphanages, and other group shelters right here in the United States, and we think, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they all could be adopted into loving homes.” And, of course, it certainly would. What we don’t often think about is their day-to-day lives where they currently reside. One thing that many of these children go without is a set of pajamas. Is that really such a big deal? you might wonder. Out of everything they don’t have, are pajamas really so significant?
Think about it. What do pajamas mean to you? To me, they represent comfort, care, snuggling up, and relaxation. At the end of a long day, I look forward to getting into my comfy pajamas and curling up with a blanket. There’s something very special about that time of night – it’s as if the act of putting the pajamas on sends a signal to our body and soul that it is a time for self-nuture and rest.
Genevieve saw a need and acted on it. A shelter local to her home houses kids whose mothers are incarcerated and fathers who are not in the picture. When she learned that these children went to bed in their day clothes or just in their underwear, she was astounded. Truly. She (like many of us) just never gave a thought to that part of their day. Now, thanks to Genevieve’s hard work, she has collected more than 85,000 pairs of brand new pajamas! Feetie pajamas for kids, snugglies for babies, and PJ sets for teens. Then, while on the Oprah show, she was shocked to find out that the entire studio audience had been called a week prior to the show and asked to bring/send pajamas for her organization. The audience ended up contributing more than 36,000 more sets of PJs! Yes, you read that right. She’ll sure be inundated now with that kind of media exposure!
Imagine how special the kids who benefit from Genevieve’s Pajama Program feel when they slip into a new, warm, soft pair of pajamas that are theirs and theirs alone; that at the end of a potentially not-so-happy day, there’s some cozy clothes just for them to wear to bed.
She also collects books so the kids, all gathered in their jammies, can be read a bedtime story. I encourage you to check out her program. I just love it! And then, think about what you can do in your life to “pay it forward.”