Here's an unusual mission for a charity: Making sure all children get a good night's sleep. Our Roger Clark tells us about a charity that believes it all starts with a good pair of new pajamas.
It's an experience that changed Genevieve Piturro's life, leading her to help transform the lives of others.
As a volunteer reading to children in city homeless shelters she noticed they had no warm pajamas for bedtime.
"These children in the shelters were sleeping in their clothes," Piturro said. "Clothes that they were wearing for days."
Piturro sprang into action, starting the Pajama Program 16 years ago. Its mission is collecting new pajamas and books for children in shelters, group homes and temporary housing. Five million pairs of PJs and books later, the effort moves forward, with the belief that every child has the right to a good night's sleep.
"Since we serve kids 0, infants through 18, there's always a need," Piturro said. "Especially now. It's cold. It's winter. It's the holiday."
The pajama program is going to keep getting pajamas and books to kids but they are also entering a new phase as an organization, hoping to raise awareness of the importance of a good bedtime routine for all children.
The philosophy is that good nights, lead to good days.
"Without that good night's rest, they're not really ready for the day ahead," said Jamie Dyce, the program's executive director.
Pajama Program also has a midtown reading center, where volunteers read stories to kids, before they receive brand new pajamas. Sponsors like Scholastic and Carter's have helped the cause, the rest is up to the kindness of strangers — the program has since opened more than 60 chapters in over 30 states.
"It's difficult, very difficult at night for so many of these children and these families, to stay warm, to have comfort and security, to have a good night," Piturro said.
Piturro says all sizes of pajamas are needed, but do not forget older children and teens in shelters, who are sometimes overlooked.
To help out or volunteer visit the program's website. In Manhattan, Roger Clark, NY1.