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#UCPSGivesBack: SVMS students lead pajama drive to provide underprivileged children with a cozy night’s sleep

Promise Pajamas Every holiday season, hundreds of Union County Public Schools (UCPS) students and staff donate their time, talents and resources to help those in need.

To shine a spotlight on their efforts, UCPS will share a story each week about how schools are spreading holiday cheer and bringing about real change in their local communities and abroad.


Every Thursday morning, long before the first bell of the school day rings, as many as 35 Sun Valley Middle students gather in Jenny Kanagy’s classroom. As members of the school’s student-led Fellowship of Christian Athletes club, they often spend their time identifying ways to give back in their school, community and abroad.

So when Kanagy, who also serves as the club’s sponsor, suggested giving back to underprivileged and homeless children through the Promise Pajamas organization this holiday season, all of the students were immediately on board. Within days, word began to spread among their classmates, announcements were made on the school’s morning news show and donation bins were set up in Kanagy’s classroom.

“Everyone thought it was a good idea because we all want to give back and help our community out as much as we can,” said FCA club co-leader and eighth grader Ella Brown. “It’s really cool to have middle schoolers weigh in on community service, and to see sixth and seventh graders walk into school with pajamas to put into the bin for other children. It’s nice to see so many people want to be a part of this.”

Promise Pajamas is a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization that provides warm, new pajamas to homeless or underprivileged children ages two through 14 years old. Having no choice other than going to bed in the same clothes they wear during the day could ultimately affect a child’s sleep and self-esteem, the organization said on their website, so having a new, warm pair of pajamas allows them to experience the same “normal” as their peers.

“The thing that is starting to register with our students is that this is not something that is outside of this community. These are their classmates, and the students know that the need is also here in this school and in this community,” Kanagy said. “Everybody in the school gets to feel as if they’re a part of this. Serving others is one of the biggest things we do.”

When asked if they had a specific goal or number of pajamas they hope to raise, the students said their main goal is to have students and community members give from their hearts rather than out of obligation to help them reach a specific number of pajamas.

FCA club co-leader and eighth grader Evan Kissel said whether a student brings in four or five sets of pajamas or if they only bring in one pair of pajamas, he and the other club members are appreciative for any and all donations they receive.

“I think it’s really important to give back, especially in our community. It really shows that you don’t have to be a certain age to make a difference,” Evan said. “Giving back isn’t restricted to being older, or being a teenager or being out of school. The difference is made when you decide to do it.”

For more information about how you can get involved with the pajama donation project, contact SVMS teacher Jenny Kanagy at jenny.kanagy@ucps.k12.nc.us.

Posted: Nov. 27, 2018