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Program makes bedtime better

Date: 8/25/2010

Aug. 25, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Ann Kudelka knows the value of her family's bedtime routine. She and her two boys, age two and four, brush their teeth, get into their pajamas, read two books in bed together, say their "I love you(s)" and drift off to sleep. However, some children aren't as fortunate.

Kudelka, president of the non-profit Pajama Program's newest chapter in Western Massachusetts, is aiming to bring warm sleepwear, bedtime stories and sweet dreams to the region's children in need so they may have similar experiences of comfort and warmth each night.

"As an educator [previously with Springfield Public Schools] and a mother, I cannot encourage reading enough," she said. "Reading opens a child's mind and can allow them endless possibilities. A book may allow a child to escape from his or her reality for just a short while or it can introduce a teenager to poetry and allow them to express themselves, granting them a sense of freedom from their situation.

"Think about if you had been shuffled around or found yourself at a shelter, and then someone came over to you and gave you a set of brand new pajamas and a book," Kudelka continued. "How would that make you feel? Now imagine this being a child. What may seem to some as a small gesture could make that child feel valued, cared about or even loved. It may even restore hope in that child. Never under estimate the power of kindness; you never know how your action can impact another person's life."

She noted the importance of a bedtime routine in order for children to feel safe and secure.

Kudelka initially got involved with Pajama Program with the intention of hosting a pajama drive, however, just two weeks ago she decided to go all in and start the region's first Pajama Program chapter.

"We're thrilled to work with Ann to first identify the need in Western Massachusetts and then to help provide as many new pajamas and books to children as possible," Genevieve Piturro, founder of Pajama Program, said.

Kudelka noted the demand for pajamas and books is far greater than the supply.

"Our Receiving Organizations (RO) [shelters and group homes] have a continuous influx of families; it's always nice when they can offer these children a set of new pajamas. The Pajama Program would ideally like to give pajamas to a Receiving Organization three to four times a year. Some ROs can see up to 100 children in a month. So, the only quota I have is to get as many new pajamas (and or books) as I possibly can," Kudelka said for her plans as chapter president.

Any business, school, local organization or group of friends can host a Pajama Drive to benefit Pajama Program, which accepts new sleepwear and books for age infant to 17 years old. Those wishing to make a tax deductable monetary donation may do so at

Since its inception in 2001, Pajama Program has grown to 73 chapters nationwide, providing 210,000 sets of pajamas and 110,000 books to children in need.

For more information about Pajama Program's Western Massachusetts Chapter or to host a Pajama Drive, contact Kudelka at

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