When the Hall family from Wyland Elementary asked for pajama donations for local refugees, foster and at-risk children, students there heeded the call.
The Allison Park family had heard about a Plaid Pajama Project based in Philadelphia, which collects the night sets for those in need, Audrey Hall said. Her two daughters, Lorelai, 7, and, Lucy, 9, asked if they could do the same thing.
So, for the past two years, they’ve done their own pajama collection project, this year bringing it to Wyland Elementary where Lorelai is in second grade, and Lucy in fourth.
Audrey said she had mentioned the project to school counselor Amy Kinney last year and so Kinney incorporated the donation drive into Wyland’s Helping Hands program.
Within just about a week, families and students from Wyland had sent in approximately 100 pajama sets.
The Hall family was impressed, not only by the number of donations, but also by the good, quality pajamas collected.
“It really shows the spirit of people giving their best. It’s such a blessing,” Audrey said.
Lucy and Lorelai could not believe the amount of donations from their friends at school. “It was really great,” Lucy said.
Last year, the Hall family collected 300 pj sets. This year Lucy and Lorelai wanted to increase their goal to 400.
They usually begin their pj prowl beginning in October, asking for donations from family and friends.
Word of mouth spread and soon they were not only receiving pjs from family and friends, but also from people across the country including a school in Ohio. Audrey said they were able to exceed their 400 goal.
And why pajamas?
Audrey points out that night clothes are usually the last thing a parent purchases for themselves or their child.
“There’s something about putting on a comfy pair of pajamas,” Audrey said.
And she said it’s just the act that makes a difference.
“It shows you love them and you care about them,” she said.
The pajamas go to a number of places. The Hall family has been already helping Somali Bantu refugees get settled through a volunteer program at the Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh.
So, this pajama donation is just another way to help the refugees feel more at home. The Somali Bantu refugees they help have about 150 children with them, Audrey said.
Donations also go toward foster children through the Foster Love Project, a nonprofit based in Pittsburgh that provides foster children with personal and basic items.
They also provide pajamas for another refugee program in the Northview Heights, Crafton area, she said.
Lorelai said she hopes the kids who get the pjs are as excited to receive them as she was to help collect them.
“My friend is a foster kid so I picked out some special pjs for her that I hope she’ll like. They are Christmas-themed cause she said she’d like some like that,” Lucy said.
Audrey said the recipients definitely showed gratitude for the donations.
She said in her experience Somali people are usually very reserved, but she could tell they were very happy by their faces and actions.
“Huge hugs all around,” she said.
They also gave pajama sets to an afterschool program in the North Side geared for at-risk youth, held through the Allegheny Center Alliance Church. Audrey said “lots of screaming took place” when they gave out the donations.
“It showed that (for some) just a pair of pajamas is a huge deal,” said Audrey, who also has two sons, Lincoln, 4, and Landry, 2.
Audrey is worried about next year. She’s not sure her living room will accommodate Lucy and Lorelai’s new goal of 700 pajama sets, she said laughing.
Natalie Beneviat is a