YMCA pajama drive to help foster child ministry
Published 3:31 pm Friday, November 17, 2023
Members of the Junius Ward Johnson YMCA are working to help ease the transition for foster children when they enter a new home.
The YMCA is conducting a pajama drive through Dec. 20 to collect pajamas in all sizes from newborn to adult. The pajamas will be given to the Foster Care Ministry for Warren County to help children who are removed from their homes and placed in foster care.
The drive is the result of a conversation between Y member Bonnie Henry and Laura Gee, who is an advocate for foster children in Vicksburg and now serves as executive director for CASA, or court-appointed special advocate for children. The organization of volunteers represents children affected by abuse and neglect.
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Henry and Gee attend First Baptist Church and are good friends.
“Our children are the same age so that’s kind of how I was aware of the foster care program that they (the church) have going,” Henry said. “We have a foster care closet at First Baptist and every year First Baptist hosts a Christmas party for the foster children of Warren County.”
That led to the decision to hold the pajama drive.
Henry said the YMCA holds a different program for the community each year.
“We did a coat drive one year for different organizations around town, but last year we did a pajama drive and our members brought in over 250 pairs of pajamas for the foster care support ministry.
“It was a really wonderful turnout, and we gave the pajamas out at the foster care Christmas party that year. Those pajamas also help to stock the supply closet that is housed at First Baptist.”
Gee, Henry said, told her that often foster children will arrive at their foster homes late in the evenings “so having a large supply of pajamas on hand or available for the foster care ministry is important because they can meet an immediate need for those children.”
When children are going to a new foster home, the foster parents often must move quickly to provide a good environment for the child and the activity can be traumatic for the child.
“So pajamas … providing warm, clean, snuggly pajamas so they can feel safe in a new environment sounds like a small thing, but it’s an important thing and it can provide some comfort and security for them,” she said.
Henry said anyone can donate pajamas to the YMCA’s drive.
“(You can) bring them to the front desk at the Y at 267 YMCA Place,” she said. “We have a box down front for people to put them in and anybody in the community is welcome to bring them in. You don’t have to be a Y member and you can donate as many as they want.”