I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much we promise all the children who are waiting for our pajamas and books. Will we receive enough support every year to get through our wait list? Can we deliver on our promise? Will we ever be able to fix the hurt? Almost every time I start to panic the phone rings and a new group asking to help reveals itself, just in time! So often it's a group of children who want to collect pajamas and books or plan a fundraiser and these calls warm my heart every time. Pajama and book drives are the most popular ways for children to get involved. They can invite their families, classes and schools, girl and boy scout troops, churches, and teams to participate in Pajama Program. Even the four- and five-year-olds get the message when they see their collection of pajamas and books piling up. They seem to realize, "there are children who don't have these. I don't know why, but they don't and they should."
Recently an elementary school finished their drive and a mom volunteered to make the pick-up for us. She told us when she arrived at the classroom one little boy in first grade had tears in his eyes and told her:
"These PJs will be helping another child who doesn't have PJs to wear to bed."
Some of his classmates told the mom, "It's OK, we didn't mind helping, we have pajamas, they should too."
The children we read with and see day in and day out are very special to all of us, but so are all these children in our Kids Helping Kids program. I tell them, " You're helping friends you haven't met, they're children just like you, no different except they don't have all the nice things you have, things they deserve just like you do." I see expressions of sadness and confusion on their faces. They ask me questions like:
"Will the children be able to wash their pajamas?" "How do the kids who don't have parents grow up?"
Our friends Julie and Kevin were married more than 15 years before they were able to adopt their only child to love. Emily came to them as an infant and she was beautiful and full of life. We visited several times a year and watched as she grew from a newborn into a delightful little girl. On her fourth birthday my husband and I watched as she played, cartwheeling the best she could to impress us. She accidentally poked my husband in the arm and worried that she had hurt him. She retreated shyly into a chair and quietly asked him if he was hurt. He smiled and said no.
She then told him, "When I get hurt my mommy and daddy make me feel better and the hurt goes away."
In that moment it hit home -- fixing a hurt should be that simple for all children.