10/18/2012 04:07 pm ET Updated Dec 18, 2012

Stuffing a Bus With Pajamas

Have you ever seen a big yellow school bus stuffed with pajamas and books? It's quite a sight! Every year in Westchester County in November
Pajama Program conducts our week-long bus collection. Hundreds of children and adults, schools, businesses, and libraries participate in this increasingly popular event to help local children in need.

The brainchild of then-16-year-old Haleigh Telfer-Burgess, daughter of Westchester's County Coach school bus driver Kate, our Stuff a Bus campaign has been a hugely successful local event that has demonstrated the generosity of spirit and caring of children and adults alike even during these challenging economic times. The enthusiasm is contagious: as the donated school bus stops by designated stops, beaming children pour out of their schools -- many dressed in pajamas -- with armloads of new PJs and books to "stuff" the bus for children in need, and this repeats itself over and over during the week-long campaign in front of local schools, libraries and businesses. The week closes with a pep-rally at an elementary school with a celebration of the good works of so many and what it means to thousands of underserved children.

Our goal this year is to raise 3,500 pajamas and 2,500 new books on the bus and deliver all the gifts to children in need by Thanksgiving so that on Thanksgiving night the children can go to sleep in their new, warm pajamas.

The most touching moments for me during this week are the minutes I spend addressing each classroom to thank them for the hundreds of PJs and books they will put on the bus. I tell them about the children their gifts will be delivered to, what it means to those children and how I hope when they are eating their delicious and bountiful Thanksgiving dinner they will stop and remember that somewhere not too far away a child is putting on the pajamas they gave and taking their new book to bed with them. I can see in their eyes that they care. They understand they have enough for themselves and it's time to share, to think about other children, just like them, who would love to have a pair of pajamas -- maybe their first pair -- to wear this winter. Sometimes I am sure I see a spark in a child's eye when he's on line with his classmates to put his gifts on the bus that tells me he gets it -- it's about helping someone else, not just once, but in the days and years to come. I cherish those moments I witness when love is transferred from a small child learning about life to another child -- one he may never meet.