(June 3, 2016) Catherine Read, host of Kitchen Table Conversations, sits down with Karen Duffy, who runs the Virginia Chapter of the Pajama Program. This program ensures that all children, no matter where they are living or what their income level, have a cozy set of pajamas and a book to read before they go to bed. Their goal is to ensure that children experience a good night sleep, and awaken with the spirit and energy to make every day positive, happy and hopeful. They accomplish this with the magical gift of a new set of pajamas and a book, ordinary objects that transform their bedtimes into comforting rituals of love, support and fun.
The Pajama Program was established back in 2001, and has grown to have chapters in all 50 states. Duffy is an Kindergarten school teacher, who organized drives for the Virginia chapter each year at her elementary school. When she learned that the Virginia chapter head was stepping down, she decided to step up, and now she coordinates the statewide effort to help connect volunteers with over 90 receiving organizations. Organizations who accept donations include homeless shelters (such as Shelter House), domestic abuse shelters, group homes (orphanages), and at-risk children who are identified through the hospital.
The Pajama Program has established a Good Night Bill of Rights, a doctrine that helps guide the organization, and helps remind them of what is important in their mission and in a child’s day. Its five simple principals help the Pajama Program and communities everywhere, to deliver a loving bedtime and quality night’s sleep to children everywhere. The five points are:
- Every child has the right to a sense of stability and security.
- Every child has the right to feel loved and cared for at bedtime.
- Every child has the right to wear fresh, clean pajamas to bed, and to enjoy a bedtime story that fires their imagination.
- Every child has the right to feel valued and validated as a human being.
- Every child has the right to a good night, and a good day.
Duffy points out that although it is more fun to buy pajamas and books for young children, kids of all ages are in need of these items. One suggestion she had when running a donation drive, is to have kids bring in pajamas and books for kids their own age. She hopes that organizations like scouts, school groups, businesses and places of worship will learn about the Pajama Program and choose to plan a donation drive. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of children who can use a fresh set of pajamas and a new book.
To find out how you can volunteer for distribution days, organize a pajama/book drive, or suggest an organization that would benefit from the Pajama Program, email Karen at [email protected]