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The gift of a warm, fuzzy feeling

Two women start a chapter of the Pajama Program that will give sleepwear to children waiting to be placed in foster care.

By CRISTINA SILVA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 21, 2007


Pam Raml accepts a donated book from Jessica McCann and her daughter Kelly on Friday at the Ultimate Party and Play Zone.
photo
[CRISTINA SILVA | Times]
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ST. PETERSBURG  

An episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show inspired Clarissa Hughes to give back.

The St. Petersburg mother of two was watching a segment on a non-profit that donated pajamas to children in foster care.

"I thought, 'oh, we got to do it,'" said Hughes, who was adopted as a young girl.

That episode, which aired in April, highlighted the Pajama Program, a New York-based, national nonprofit that provides underprivileged children with their own pair of brand new pajamas. Shortly after, Hughes decided to start a local chapter of the organization with a few friends.

"It just seems to be such a basic thing," said Pam Raml, co-founder of the St. Petersburg chapter. "You just assume kids have pajamasat night."

On Friday, Raml and Hughes hosted their first pajama drive at the Ultimate Party and Play Zone in St. Petersburg. More than 40 families donated dozens of pajamas. There were pajamas decorated with frogs, pajamas with flowers, pajamas with dinosaurs. Families also donated books.

The sleepwear will be donated to the Family Visitation House, part of Children's Home Society of Florida, which cares for children waiting to be placed infoster care.

Many foster children arrive at in-take centers with few possessions, said Hughes. The new pajamas provide not only comfort, but also a bright moment in the midst of a bleak experience, she said.

"I'm sure many of them have never seen anything new before," Hughes said.

Eventually, Hughes and Raml want to persuadebusinesses to host donation drives. They are also urging their friends and neighbors to donate during the holidays.

"Instead of bringing a host's gift to a gathering, you could bring pajamas," Raml said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

FAST FACTS

Pajama time

To learn more about the Pajama Program visit www.pajamaprogram.org. To learn about the St. Petersburg chapter, e-mail clarissa@pajamaprogram.com.

[Last modified November 20, 2007, 20:24:26]


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