Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Pajama Program

The relentless recession has not been kind to the nation's children. One in five American children now live in poverty. Millions live in temporary housing, sleeping in their clothing because they don’t own pajamas. In today's devastating economy, as families suffer under the weight of joblessness, low wages and the housing crisis, it is the youngest members of American society who are most affected.

One woman is changing that, one child at a time.

Ten years ago, Genevieve Piturro left a thriving corporate career because of a fateful encounter with a little girl when she was volunteering at a Harlem homeless shelter who had never owned a pair of pajamas and slept in her clothes.

She started Pajama Program with her own money and then got friends and family to donate new PJs and books and soon it was national. A milestone was reached this year when the Pajama Program reached the one million mark to children in need across the country, helping them feel a little less lost and alone. Supported by thousands of volunteers nationwide -- from children to parents and grandparents – the much beloved serves children living in group homes and shelters. The non-profit has deep respect and support among celebrities as well, such as Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Meredith Vieira, Judy Colins and Whoopi Goldberg.

This year in celebration of a decade of giving, the national non-profit Pajama Program is issuing a Call To Action to the nation’s children and their families to hold Pajama Drives, Parties and Fundraising Events to help reach a goal of serving 500,000 children in need by year-end. In fact, in schools and communities nationwide, it is often children who work the hardest to gather as many donations as possible to help bring a smile and some comfort to their less fortunate peers. The Program has grown to 79 chapters in 42 states!

Even Suze Orman talked about the lessons we can teach our children in her best-selling book The Money Class, where she wrote, “A friend recently made her five-year-old’s birthday party into a pajama party, asking children to come in their PJs and to bring a new set of pajamas instead of a gift. The pajamas were donated to the Pajama Program, a charity that gives new pajamas and books to children in need in the U.S. I thought this was a great idea that created a real opportunity to teach small children about our obligation to help those less fortunate.”

Pajama Program’s mission becomes more urgent during the period it identifies as “Danger Season” when the thermostat dips and the harsh winter months settle in. October 1st is the start of Danger Season in New York and nationwide. Pajama Program works hard at this time of year to heighten the public’s awareness of the need to keep these at risk children in warm, clean nighttime clothing and with a bedtime book to allay their fears, and also ring in the Holidays!

This is a heartwarming and important story as so many children in NY are at risk and alone. You could come to their Manhattan office and attend the book reading, the children receiving and trying on their new PJs and interview founder Genevieve Pitturo, whose passion and dedication to children in need has made a real difference in these children's lives.


  1. Wow, what a heart warming and heart breaking story all at the same time!

  2. Wow, what a wonderful program! So sad though. :-(