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Pajama Program Volunteers Show Needy Children They Are Loved

No kid looks forward to bedtime, but for one children's home in Queens, it's a fun time. In the following report, NY1's Jennifer Rainville introduces us to a program which shows needy kids their fellow New Yorkers care about them, be it day or night.

New York is the city that never sleeps, so what better place to have a pajama party in the middle of the day?

That's the occasion at a children's home in Queens. Forty-eight kids of all ages live at Hour Children while their mothers make the transition from incarceration to a life outside prison walls. Here, the kids receive the basic necessities they need to live healthy lives every day. But now, with the help of a local volunteer group, the kids spend every night happier, too.

“It's such a simple idea,” says Genevieve Piturro.

Piturro started donating pajamas to city children's homes years ago. She decided to create the Pajama Program after meeting a little girl at a home in Harlem three years ago.

“I asked her to pick a pair of pajamas, and she looked at me and she said, ‘What are these?’” she says. “And I didn't think I heard her, because I didn't think she'd say that. And the caregiver whispered to me, ‘She doesn't know what they are - she sleeps in her clothes.’”

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, Hour Children's director, says the donations are a unique way to give kids what they need while giving them a much needed sense of security.

“It's probably one thing that people don't think kids need, in a way, and yet it says to them that there is a care and a warmth and a gentleness about life that's very important,” she says. “The little things we take for granted we can't take for granted in the life of children.”

That's a lesson program advisor Jacky Teplitzky wants to teach her kids. She introduced her two boys to the program to teach them about the importance of volunteerism.

“There are things that you can explain to them in words, but unless they actually see it and they actually feel it, they don't get it,” she says. “We live in the city, in Manhattan, and I wanted to show them that not everybody grows up like they.”

“Children will say, ‘Can I keep these?,’ because these children aren't used to having anything that is theirs,” says Piturro. “To have something that's their own, that they can sleep with, that's warm, and a book - they treasure it. It's heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time.”

For supplying these kids with what they need to feel loved even after the sun goes down, the volunteers at the Pajama Program are our New Yorkers of the Week.

To find out more about the Pajama Program, you can call 1-646-522-6836 or visit www.pajamaprogram.org.



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