Did you know that something as small as a pair of pajamas could change a child’s life? Genevieve Piturro, 52, realized this while she was volunteering to read to children at a homeless shelter, in New York, fourteen years ago. After reading to the children, she noticed that they would get into their beds fully clothed, and it made her wonder what kind of difference it would make if they had a clean pair of pajamas to put on before bed.
“When I finished reading to them, they’d simply get into bed with their clothes on,” Piturro said. “The police had brought them in wearing nothing but the clothes on their back, clothes that were often dirty, sometimes covered in blood. They were alone and frightened, and given nothing but food,” she continued. “As I turned to leave one night, a little girl in a Chicago shelter whispered in my ear, ‘Please, don’t forget me.’ People come in and out of their lives, and they’re forgotten.”
After that night, Piturro made it her own personal mission to provide the children some sort of hope by showing that, at least one person, cared about them. She started asking people around her for donations of pajamas and books. Over the past fourteen years, through her non-profit organization the Pajama Program, Piturro has provided children in 32 states with over 2 million pairs of pajamas and books.
— Genevieve Piturro (@GenevievePajama) December 15, 2013
“This is the first stop for children before they’re placed in foster care, and having warm beautiful pajamas makes their transition a little bit less traumatic,” says Ronald E. Richter, Commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. “It’s hard to say whether the fear goes away when the volunteers are here, but, in those moments, it helps them know that there are caring people out there. Having another adult comfort them makes them feel as though they’re okay.”
— Genevieve Piturro (@GenevievePajama) December 17, 2013
Piturro says they are always in need of donation and urges people not to forget about the older children and teenagers. “Children are losing hope, and we have to step up to the plate. We always need more pajamas, especially because the kids who are traumatized are wetting and soiling themselves, not even just the little ones, but teenagers, too,” said Piturro. “They’re afraid, there’s a lot of anxiety. They’re so nervous about being in a new place, where they’re going to be, what’s happening.”
“People forget about the bigger kids. When they’re 10 or 11, they know the score: adoption won’t happen, and they’d be lucky to find a foster family,” Piturro continued. “They’re so lonely and defeated, and when a box arrives at a shelter and it’s only filled with stuff for the little kids, that’s a double heartbreak for them. We beg for sizes 12, 14 in kids, and adult small and medium for teenagers so they’re remembered, too.”
To find out how you can help click here.
Image via Twitter