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December 21, 2011

 

Homer students give gift of pj’s

By STEVE HUGHES
Staff Reporter
shughes@cortlandstandardnews.net

HOMER — For some children, putting on a warm pair of pajamas at night and getting into bed with a book is a luxury, rather than a nightly occurrence.
Last year, Connie Martin, a fourth-grade teacher at Homer Intermediate School, read about Pajama Program, a nonprofit group that donates new pajamas and books for children who need them.
She decided she was in a position to help and organized a collection in three fourth-grade classes at the school. The children brought in over 60 pairs of new pajamas last year.
This year, the collection went out to the whole district. The district’s students responded, bringing in 180 new pairs of pajamas and over 300 new books in less than three weeks, and they are all collected in Martin’s classroom, waiting to be donated.
The response from the district and from the students in her class was extraordinary, Martin said.
“They were really excited about it and they did a great job,” she said. “The kids are getting a pajama party on Thursday as a reward.”
Pajama Program, which began in New York City in 2001, mainly serves children living in group homes and shelters.
In the past 10 years, the program has given away 891,808 pairs of pajamas and 511,599 books to needy children.
Genevieve Piturro, executive director and founder of the Pajama Program, said the charity tries to make sure the donations stay with local organizations.
“We send them to agencies we’ve vetted,” she said. “None of the donations go directly to people’s homes.”
The priority is children who are living in a shelter, she said. After that the donations are sent to group homes and charitable organizations.
The donations from Homer will go to children in the Binghamton area, the program’s nearest chapter, through agencies like the Red Cross or Catholic Charities, Martin said.
“They’re especially in need of them down there with all the flooding,” Martin said. “We’re helping kids that don’t have anything, who lost everything.”
Donations during this time of year are especially important because of the colder weather. Pajama Program’s website refers to it as “the danger season.”
After two successful collections, Martin plans to expand the collection to outside the Homer school district next year.
“I’d like to reach out a little bit more and get more people in the Cortland area involved,” Martin said. “Next year I’m hoping I’ll be able to start a chapter here in Cortland so that the donations will help local kids because there definitely is a need.”

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