By Stephanie Paniagua |Staff Writer|
A group of CSUSB students plan on raising and donating 4,000 pairs of pajamas to the growing number of foster children within San Bernardino County.
The members of the Educational Counseling Graduate Student Association (ECGSA) hosted their first Pajama Drive kick-off event last Tuesday,Nov. 1, in the atrium of the College of Education building. The pajamas are to be donated to the Children’s Fund located in San Bernardino.
The Children’s Fund is a 20-year-old non-profit organization with the mission of preventing child abuse in the community and providing at-risk children various social services to ensure proper development according to childrensfundsbcounty.org.
Supporters of the event arrived in pajama attire that ranged from pink Hello Kitty robes to Lakers’ shirts and Chargers’ bottoms. Many of the supporters took it so far as wearing their pajamas to class and work.
“If the only way we can make a foster child feel loved and comforted is by giving them a pair of pajamas, then way to go,” Jay Fin, Dean of the College of Education, said about ECGSA’s event.
Currently in San Bernardino County alone there are 4,290 foster children, reported treasurer of ECGSA David Smietana. Erin Phillips, president of the Children’s Fund, reported that since last April that number has risen by 150.
“This is truly an incredible act of love,” said Phillips about ECGSA’s Pajama Drive. “We are dealing with kids who have come from nothing, yet are surviving and overcoming obstacles because of acts such as this.”
Vice president of ECGSA, Christine Gordon said that at first she wondered how a pair of pajamas would help make a difference in a child’s life.
“Then I thought that since foster children don’t have someone to show them that sense of love and comfort other children with parents get to experience. This is our way of giving them a hug and showing them that there is someone out there that cares about them,” said Gordon.
Sue Botherton, advisor of ECGSA and a professor for the College of Education, shared with the attendees her experience as a foster child and also as a single foster mother.
“I was abandoned by my family as a young teenage girl,” said Botherton. “I felt very sad, lost and alone. There were many days where I wouldn’t say anything all day long to my foster family from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep.”
Botherton continued by saying that she had lost all of her belongings and even felt like she lost herself during her teenage years. Botherton said when she would foster babies and toddlers most of them would come with only diapers or whatever they had worn that day and nothing else. Hence, she felt it was a great idea to donate pajamas especially to foster children.
ECGSA has already received over 100 pairs of donated pajamas. They also received a monetary donation in the amount of $2,500 from a member of the organizations family.
ECGSA will be accepting new unwrapped pajamas through Dec. 9. Drop boxes have been placed around the campus.
To find donation locations visit sites.google.com/site/ecgsasite/.