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					Santa Barbara News
April 1, 2009 12:12 AM

Santa Maria woman collecting PJs and bedtime stories for
children in need Santa Maria woman collecting PJs and bedtime
stories for children in need The thought of children without
pajamas and bedtime stories drove Tricia Drylie to action.

So far, the Santa Maria mother of three has received donations
of 124 pajamas and 82 books toward her goal to make certain
kids, whatever their circumstances, don't go to sleep without
basic comforts.

In January, she started collecting new pajamas and new books
for children in need referred by various organizations. The        Tricia Drylie shows some of the books she's
situations may vary: The kids' parents might be homeless and        collected through the Pajama Program to
unable to afford pajamas and books, or the child may be going          help Santa Barbara County children.
into foster care, possibly leaving a home where he or she             MIKE ELIASON/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
suffered abuse or neglect, Mrs. Drylie said. Children also can
find themselves suddenly in foster care when their parents
become too ill to care for them, she added.

Whatever the circumstances, the children go without the
reassurance that comes from a routine of getting into PJs and
hearing a bedtime story, she said. Such a routine, she added,
can bring a good closure to the day.

"You forget everything that happened during the day, good or
bad. You go to bed with a good feeling," Mrs. Drylie, 40, said.

She carries out the PJ-and-story ritual each night with her son,
Spencer, 4. (She's also the mother of 22-month-old twin girls,      These are just a few of the pajamas and
Claire and Meredith.)                                                books Mrs. Drylie has collected. So far,
                                                                    she's received 124 pajamas. More will be
"I didn't realize so many kids go without pajamas," Mrs. Drylie     coming when the New York headquarters
said. "With the economic times, there are more and more kids          of the Pajama Program uses $2,000
who are homeless."                                                 donated from employees at Vandenberg Air
                                                                        Force Base to buy additional PJs.
She's working on providing PJs to Transition House, a Santa
Barbara shelter for homeless families; the multi-county Family
Care Network; Santa Barbara County Social Services; and
Domestic Violence Solutions, which has shelters for women
and children in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria.

"My main responsibility is identifying the organizations that
need our help," Mrs. Drylie said. "Some of these organizations
tell me some children don't know what pajamas are."

They end up sleeping in their regular clothes.

Mrs. Drylie said she can't help many more organizations until
she gets more pajamas.
                                                                    This is one of Mrs. Drylie's donation boxes
Some, who have heard about the program, in part, through           for the pajamas. She would like businesses
Mrs. Drylie's fliers, are already assisting her with that goal.       to have similar drop-off boxes to help
                                                                        collect the much-needed clothing.

An employee at Vandenberg Air Force Base collected 10 pairs
of pajamas, 40 books and $2,000, which, like all monetary
donations, will go to the New York headquarters of the Pajama
Program. In turn, that office will buy pajamas and send them to Mrs. Drylie for local distribution.

"I was quite impressed," Mrs. Drylie said about the Vandenberg drive. "I told the Vandenberg guy, 'You're
really a rock star!' "

Throughout the Central Coast, individuals and groups are doing what they can to help the Pajama Program,
Mrs. Drylie said. The Moms Club of Orcutt donated $100.

"In San Luis Obispo, I have a woman who is having a party with her friends," Mrs. Drylie said. "Admission is
a new pair of pajamas.

"I have someone in Monterey who is having an event with raffle tickets. All the money will go to the Pajama
Program," she said.

D'Ann Bartley of Prudential California Reality in Santa Maria organized a raffle to raise money for the
program; the prize was two front-row tickets for the PCPA Theaterfest production of "Les Miserables" at
Allan Hancock College, Mrs. Drylie said.

The Pajama Program coordinator is looking to others for help. She sent postcards to 100 public and private
schools in Santa Barbara County, asking for their help through pajama drives. She said she contacted UCSB
and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and suggested they give discounts on game tickets for people who show up
with new pajamas.

"Businesses can help by putting drop-off boxes (for pajamas) in their locations. Businesses also can say,
'Bring in a pair of pajamas and get $1 off your smoothie, or bring in a pair of pajamas and get a free wine
glass,' " she said.

On Mrs. Drylie's dining room table were some of the books and PJs she has collected. The pajama patterns
varied from Spider-Man to Disney princesses to footballs. The PJs should have no violent themes, Mrs. Drylie

The books on her table ranged from classics such as "Jack and the Beanstalk" to "Big Bird in the City,"
"Curious George and the Firefighters," "The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race" and a Little Golden
Book about a dog, "Walt Disney's Scamp."

The donations also included a Dr. Seuss classic, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."

Mrs. Drylie became involved with the Pajama Program after she received an e-mail in December from PBS
Sprout, a cable network, about its Great Sprout Tuck-In, a campaign promoting the Pajama Program, which
has 66 chapters throughout the country.

Northern California and a Southern California region that went as far north as Ventura County had Pajama
Program chapters, but there was none on the Central Coast, she said. She decided to start one, acting as
president. Her chapter serves kids from Carpinteria to Monterey.

"Right now, it's just me and my husband (U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott Drylie)," she said about the chapter's

The timing was ideal; Mrs. Drylie was looking for a way to help her new community. She and her husband
moved to Santa Maria in August after his transfer to Vandenberg from Andrews Air Force Base near
Washington, D.C. He works in resource management.

"I thought, 'This is cool,' '' Mrs. Drylie said of the Pajama Program.

"I was itching to do something, but I can't go out to do a job. I can't dedicate that much time," said the
"But the kids are in bed by 7:30 p.m.," Mrs. Drylie added. After doing chores, she works on the Pajama
Program and squeezes it in whenever she can fit it in her schedule. "There are no quotas and no deadlines,"
she said, but noted, "It takes a lot of calls to make this happen."

One of her early calls was to the Pajama Program headquarters in New York in January when she requested
50 pajamas to get things going for the Central Coast. On Jan. 29, she met with Santa Barbara County Social
Services to find out its needs.

She received the pajamas in February, and on Feb. 27, she drove to Goleta to deliver 24 pajamas for two
foster shelters that are owned by Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services, part of Social Services.

The pajamas have already made a difference, said Annie Rodriguez, foster parent recruiter with Child
Welfare Services.

"The children come here with just the clothes on their back," Mrs. Rodriguez said. "One little boy asked,
'Why would someone buy me something who doesn't know me personally?' He had been abandoned by his
parents and saw the world as cold and uncaring. It was his first glimpse for him that the world is not
uncaring and cold."

The shelters serve children who have been abandoned, whose caretaker has become incapacitated or who
are victims of sexual or physical abuse, Mrs. Rodriguez said.

"I didn't get to see the kids; they were in school. But the woman in charge was so excited and said, 'It's
refreshing to get something new,' " Mrs. Drylie said. In fact, Mrs. Drylie leaves the price tags on the
pajamas so the kids know they're getting new clothes.

"I don't know if they're thinking about it, but at some age, they're getting it," she said about the value of
new pajamas over hand-me-downs.

Organizations needing pajamas fill out a form, explaining what sizes they need. (Mrs. Drylie doesn't
distribute pajamas directly to children or families.)

The Goleta homes especially needed PJs for ages 5-12, which is common, Mrs. Drylie said, but added
teenagers also need pajamas. It's more difficult to get donations for them because donors like to buy the
smaller, cute PJs.

"I'm trying to get the word out," Mrs. Drylie said.

The PJs go to children in communities near the donor, Mrs. Drylie said.

The Pajama Program isn't as well known as other charities, but is getting media attention from people such
as Montecito TV star Oprah Winfrey, who featured it on her talk show, Mrs. Drylie said.

The thought of children without pajamas is getting a lot of attention as Mrs. Drylie works toward a happy
ending for kids and their bedtime stories.

e-mail: dmason@newspress.com

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