The bedtime ritual for many children includes a set of pajamas and a story.
"Unfortunately ... too many children don't have that," said Dana Jolivet, the president of the Pajama Project Georgia chapter. "They crawl into an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar place in the clothes that they've been wearing all day. ...
"We want to make (bedtime) a little bit special for them if we can."
The national program collects new pajamas and children's books that are distributed to children in need, many in foster care, orphanages, group homes and emergency shelters.
Three businesses have joined with the Pajama Program to help ensure that area children get pajamas and an entertaining bedtime story before snuggling into bed, no matter where that bed is.
Bruster's Real Ice Cream of Evans and Augusta, and Learning Express Toys in Evans, are accepting donations of new pajamas and books for children up to age 18 through November.
Brooke Willis, the marketing director for Bruster's, said she found information about the program at an Atlanta conference last year and thought it was a perfect match for the businesses.
"It really just seemed like a great thing to be involved with because so many of our customers bring their children and grandchildren in," Willis said. "Becoming involved with the Pajama Project is a great way for us to expose our community to an organization where children can help other children.
"Cozy pajamas and a bedtime story are things that many children can appreciate. They get excited about giving such simple gifts to other children in need."
The pajamas and books are distributed to children who have often been shuffled between temporary living facilities.
"We certainly hope that we can make that ritual special for them and make it an opportunity for them to feel safe and warm and cozy," Jolivet said.
Since the program started in 2001, more than 407,000 pairs of pajamas and more than 184,000 books have been distributed to needy children nationwide.
In 2008, Jolivet said, she collected and distributed 3,200 pajama sets and 1,500 books.
"But it is not enough, especially this year," Jolivet said. Facilities are seeing even more children and families in need because of the economy. "It makes such a huge difference. It truly does. People don't realize what one pair of pajamas can do for a kid."
Contributions to the three businesses will be given to children in the area.
Bruster's is offering a 50-cent discount with a donation. Those making donations at Learning Express can receive a 10 percent discount.
For more information, visit www.pajamaprogram.org.
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