Brand-new cozy pajamas are being collected to keep Delaware County children and adults warm this holiday season.
In 2009, Chad Kilhefner, first-grade teacher at Carlisle Elementary School, read about the Scholastic Pajama Drive and thought it would be a good program to implement in his classroom.
Unused pajamas are collected by the class and donated to a representative in Delaware County who distributes them to local residents in need, he said.
Scholastic also agreed to donate one book per pajama set collected by the school.
Kilhefner said this class has been collecting pajamas for the past five years, but the entire school is getting involved this year.
His class has been able to collect anywhere from 15 to 20 items per year. This year, 65 items already have been collected, and Kilhefner hopes to collect at least 100.
His class has served as the collectors, counters and sorters for the whole school. The class keeps track of how many pajama sets have been donated and sorts them into categories such as "sports" or "princess."
A range of sizes from newborn to adult have been donated. The only stipulation is that they must be new.
Why pajamas? Kilhefner said that during the colder months of the year, it's a good way to warm up those in need.
"It's a great time to make someone's holiday season brighter and warmer," he said. "I explain to our class that not everyone has what they have and we want to help others."
Since Carlisle is a Leader in Me school and is working to implement seven leadership habits with the students, Kilhefner has been able to incorporate those habits into this project.
Two habits go along well with this project, he said. One of those is to "begin with the end in mind."
"We start by talking about how not everyone has a nice pair of pajamas to wear," Kilhefner said. "Now we have a plan to collect pajamas, and then at the end, those in need will have a warm pair of pajamas."
Another habit that goes along with this project is "think win-win."
"Everyone wins in this scenario," Kilhefner said. "When we donate a pair of pajamas, Scholastic will also donate a book to someone in need. Plus, those who donate will feel good about donating."
Kilhefner said the Leader in Me book discusses not being a "bucket dipper" but a "bucket filler," which he believes helps communicate to the first-graders what they're accomplishing by giving.
"A bucket dipper is someone who takes good feelings out of someone else," he said. "A bucket filler will fill another bucket with good feelings. When we give to people in need, we're also filling them with good feelings."
Kilhefner is keeping track of -- and asking other teachers to track -- students who have donated pajamas so he can give them a small thank-you treat.
"Our representative in Delaware County always brings the class a treat for donating," he said. "I think it's important to give positive reinforcements to those who are doing a good thing."
The school will collect pajamas until Friday, Dec. 13.