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Sharing the holiday spirit

Submitted | West Jefferson Hills School District
First-graders at McClellan Elementary School shared the holiday spirit with other children by purchasing new pajamas for the Scholastic Reading Club and Pajama Drive. In addition to the sleepwear, each child will receive a new book. To celebrate their efforts, they got to wear their own pajamas to school on Dec. 13. Photo courtesy of West Jefferson Hills School District

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By Dona S. Dreeland
Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

What would be better than warm jammies and a good book after a busy day?

That's what first-graders at McClellan Elementary School thought when they found out about the Scholastic Reading Club Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive.

Since 2009, the program, which was designed to “share the gift of a good night's sleep and a sweet bedtime story,” has given away almost 250,000 pairs of new pajamas and 600,000 new books. This year, local students have added 70 pairs to that total.

Moira Kaczmarek, Jenni Knopp and Kelly Hense, teachers at the school, introduced the idea to their classes. They had learned about the program from a parent at the school, who also helped organize the event.

“Students were excited to be giving a gift this holiday and learning about the importance of helping others,” said Kaczmarek, “and they liked the idea of gifting books because they are learning to read.”

After shopping with their families for these extra gifts, the children showed off their purchases to classmates.

The presents will be delivered to the Center for Victims in McKeesport.

“It felt good to give the PJs to keep the kids warm at night,” said student Nathan Farison. “It does not matter if you know them or not, they still need PJs. The kids can use the books to learn to read.”

Even at this age, students can appreciate having their own books.

”The first-graders were thrilled that the children would receive a book of their own to read and to keep at home,” said Kaczmarek, who has been with the district for 11 years.

Michael Washowich easily caught the spirit.

“If you get a book to keep, you can read it again and again,” he said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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