Owensboro Public Schools has been planning a Holiday Pajama and Book Drive event, with the hope that each of the district’s thousands of K-5 students will have the chance to create a memorable holiday-themed tradition with their families.
According to Family Resource Coordinator Jen Hester, OPS has been working on the project for several weeks.
“We’d been talking about doing it and collaborating on it,” Hester said. “Most families have traditions for the night before Christmas, and we just wanted to [give all of our students the chance to experience something fun]. We wanted to help them start a tradition of their own.”
Hester said she and her family spend Christmas Eve reading “The Night Before Christmas” after putting on their new holiday-themed pajamas. She and her team at OPS wanted to jumpstart a similar experience for their students.
“Quality time is so important for families,” she said. “Even 30 minutes of quality time a day — our kids need that.”
Hester said the community had already gone above and beyond for students at Foust, where she works. When discussions about the project were brought up a couple weeks ago, Hester said she was wondering how OPS could get the community support it needed to make it all happen.
During that time, Hester said she prayed for guidance and direction, but that she hadn’t yet reached out for assistance or made the idea public in any way.
Then, Hester received a phone call from Crosspointe Baptist Church that, according to her, was nothing short of a miracle.
“They called and said they wanted to do something for our kids. That they wanted to buy them all new pajamas,” Hester said. “I cried. I’d been praying. And then I thought, ‘This can really happen.’”
After that, Hester learned that Home Depot has applied for a $1,000 grant that would go toward providing books for OPS elementary students. Hester said Foust had been “completely blessed” to have so many things fall into place.
“I want other schools to be as blessed as we are,” she said. “Estes has had pajamas donated as well. I took it further because I had an opportunity. Anyone — individuals, businesses — can sponsor a school.”
Hester said OPS had thousands of elementary-aged students who still needed new pajamas and “new or very lightly-used books” as of Thursday evening. Donations can be dropped off at any OPS elementary school before volunteers begin bagging the items for students on Dec. 9. OPS teachers and family resource officers will deliver the bags to each student’s home.
“With our kids not being in school, that’ll give us an opportunity to see our kids again,” Hester said. “I’m just so excited about this project and I’m so grateful to the community for helping us. I just feel like people need hope right now. They need to see something good.”