The Pyjama Project Inc. has been expanding each year, this year is no different, and it is thankful to all the volunteers and donors that pitched in this year to help with the ever-growing service.
12 years ago, Carmela Wade started a small project for herself to provide children with pyjamas in honour of the Christmas season.
She worked as an art teacher at Brooklands School in Winnipeg. The school has been hosting a holiday lunch for students, and they usually had older women knit hats and mittens for the students, however, one year, the principal told Wade they were not giving those gifts but they would be given candy canes instead.
Wade found this unacceptable. That is when she started Pyjama Project Inc. which runs from September until December.
"I came up with the idea of pyjamas because I still get new pyjamas for my kids who are 27 and 29, and I give it to them on Christmas Eve. So, I thought, ok, I think I can do this," says Wade.
When the service first started, Wade was providing pyjamas for approximately 110 students. Many years later, Wade is now providing 3500 students with packaged pyjamas that will have the names of the children on them.
Wade has built up a committed team of volunteers over the past 12 years who are all ready to act when she puts the call out. Pyjama Project is run through her basement, and all the volunteers gather to purchase pyjamas, pre-cutting paper and wrap the clothes.
There are a variety of ways that Wade receives help for her cause, she spreads it through word-of-mouth, being active on social media and creating a consistent audience that helps out every year.
One of the volunteers helps Wade by scanning the Walmart website for deals on pyjamas to help her with her service. Last year she received a pallet of men's pyjamas on her driveway thanks to their efforts.
For anyone, businesses, organizations, or groups wishing to make a larger contribution, there is the option to sponsor an entire classroom. Wade says that there have been hockey teams and book clubs that have sponsored classrooms, and commends them on their creative ways of getting donations.
There is one woman, Carolyn Sigfusson, who is a retired teacher, who stands out to Wade for her contributions to the Pyjama Project.
"Every year she kind of puts out a call to her family and friends from France and Ireland and B.C. and they'll send her money. Then she shops and then brings me pyjamas. Every year she tries to beat what she brought the previous year."
Wade says that Sigfusson has given 437 pairs of pyjamas this year. They are all prepped, with the tags taken off, neatly folded and organized by size and gender.
"She's just an angel in disguise."
Wade believes that children should be warm and cozy during the cold winter months and is requesting the donation of full-length winter pyjamas only. The deadline for donations is Wednesday, November 30.
For more information, visit the Pyjama Project Inc. website.