Several years ago I gave five year old Isabella her first pair of pajamas. The cute as a cherub girl with long, dark brown wavy hair was living in an emergency shelter. She looked up at me, dark eyes questioning, and asked me what pajamas were. She had no idea... she had never seen them before.
This was not the first time a child asked me that question. But it was a question that sent my life into overdrive, trying to right this very wrong, for as many children as I could. We can't fix all the problems in our society but we can try to ease the heartache these children feel along their uncertain and lonely journey. Books and pajamas provide not only bedtime comfort and pretty pictures, they are often the only clean clothes a child has at the time and the only reading opportunity they'll have for a while.
Some time later I saw Isabella again and she recognized me and remembered that I had once brought her pajamas when I came to read with her. Her eyes lit up and she ran right over to me. I could feel a big smile cross my face as she ran into my arms. She nearly bowled me over with her excitement.
She asked me, "Are we getting more pajamas today?"
I told her we were practicing reading today and she gave me a big and beautiful smile.
She looked up at me and asked, "When you bring pajamas next time will you bring me some shoes too?"
I was speechless and I wanted to take her home. I stared at her and I thought a million thoughts in 20 seconds.
"How is it possible that this little girl is without a mom or dad at this stage in her life? Why is she living here? Who takes her to school? Who tucks her into bed at night? Who loves her and tells her everything will be alright?
I promised her another visit with extra special pajamas. She lost her smile and said quietly, "Please don't forget me."
I felt my heart drop. How could I ever forget her? How could anyone?
Pajama Program was started to provide children in need with new pajamas and new books for bedtime. Right then I discovered the single most significant reason I have been driven to keep up the pace I started 10 years ago. I didn't want to forget any of these children the way it seemed others had forgotten them. I secretly felt their desperate loneliness somehow. It was painful to face, and I knew I had to find a way to tell everyone that it's more than warm pajamas and sweet storybooks we're giving the children. We're giving them the love they lost somewhere along the way. We found a way to let them know they aren't forgotten through the dark, cold night. We don't ever want them to feel forgotten, unloved or lost again.
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