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Genevieve Piturro Headshot

Pajamas, Like Brown Bag Lunches, Mean Someone Cares

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I recently read an incredible true story called An Invisible Thread. It's by first-time author Laura Schroff and was on the New York Times bestseller list for 12 weeks. The book cover states, "An Inspiring True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny."

Yes, that's what the story is, but its meaning delves much deeper.

Laura's story reminds us how much we need one another and ultimately how much love we have in our hearts. You may never know what a single gesture means to another person, but it may have the power to change lives, yours included. Laura's story is full of little actions that connect two people forever. There are tender moments and heartwarming surprises, strong personalities and examples of human frailty throughout. Her book is about friendship, giving new meaning to those words and gestures that bond people forever.

Laura and her young friend Maurice, shared meals at the start of their relationship, hamburgers at McDonald's and dinners cooked at her apartment. But it wasn't until an impromptu conversation about lunchtime did Laura learn the true meaning of a brown bag lunch...

"Look Maurice, I don't want you out there hungry on the nights I don't see you, so this is what we can do. I can either give you some money for the week... or I can buy all the things you like to eat and make you lunch for the week."

Maurice answered, "If you make me lunch will you put it in a brown paper bag?"

"OK Sure," Laura said, "but why do you want it in a brown paper bag?"

"Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?"

That story from Laura's book speaks to me. It has taken me 10 years to truly understand the meaning of pajamas. The dictionary's definition is "a loose, usually two-piece lightweight suit designed especially for sleeping or lounging -- called also pj's." That explains what pajamas are, but it's not what pajamas mean.

This letter from a shelter says it best...

It may seem like another day at this shelter where anything can happen. Like a beacon of light these boxes show up with Pajama Program written on it. Without fail by the end of the night all the new pajamas have been put on the children from the infants to the school age children. There is something about new pajamas, a sense of comfort and the joy of wearing something new. For a lot of these children bedtime might have meant listening to a fight between their parents, maybe even having to leave in the middle of the night, maybe leaving their home with nothing but the clothes on their back. This programs brings more than just pajamas it brings comfort and safety. For those of you who spent time shopping, packing and delivering these pajamas, know that this act of kindness at all the levels meets these children at a very deep place. On behalf of all the children currently in the shelter as well as those who have left and for those who will be with us; thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You have touched us deeply, and remember, it's not just pajamas.

Giving pajamas to a child who has never had them says, "I love you." I believe Laura Schroff would agree with me.