There's simply nothing like a story.
“I like reading because you to get to learn amazing stuff,” Omari smiled.
It gives these little ones an escape and a chance to use their imaginations.
“I like to read my favorite books," Megan said. "My favorites are my Princesses books.”
“I like that they help you read because some people really can’t read that good,” Ethan explained.
Just a taste of what goes on here at Pajama Program.
“Pajama Program's success has a lot to do these days with literacy, we know that is an issue these kids are grappling with," Genevieve Piturro said.
Genevieve Piturro started the nonprofit in 2001 after years of climbing the corporate ladder.
“Something started to tug at my heart, I felt like something was missing,“ she remembered. "I decided reading to children in shelters is something I could do on my own.”
She found her purpose.
“One night I watched where they went to sleep and in the clothes they were wearing, [they went] up on the futon, lights out and I thought oh my goodness where are the pajamas.”
So next time, she brought pajamas.
“One little girl halfway through stood by me and I asked her, I got down on my knees, would you like your pajamas and she said what are they,” Piturro said.
Now, with the support of and ongoing donations by Scholastic, hundreds of volunteers spend their lunch breaks reading to and with kids in need.
“It really allows me to pass on my love of reading and my love of books to children who might not otherwise have as much exposure to it and that is hugely important to me,” Johanna, volunteer and full-time financial adviser, said.
They even let me in on story time and we picked a special Valentine's Day book.
“On Valentine’s Day we celebrate February as 'Open Your Heart'," Piturro explained. "We want people to remember that and give a hug to a child for Valentine’s Day.”
“What’s Valentine’s Day to you?” I asked Megan. “You wanna know who you really love and I really, really love my family.”
All of these kids got to leave with a book and a new pair of pajamas donated by Carter's.
"What’s the story with pajamas?" I asked Omari. "Pajamas are something that keep you comfortable!”
“Would you tell other kids to come to this program?" I asked Cam'Ron. "Yes because I want all the children in the world to have fun and try to make the world a better place.”
Which they can do, one story, at a time.
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi