LARCHMONT, N.Y. – Sydney Winter of Larchmont was only 3 when she asked her friends to bring pajamas to donate to other children in Westchester County instead of giving her birthday gifts.
Now, after turning 5, Sydney has donated more than 20 sets to the Pajama Program, a nonprofit organization that collects new pajamas and books for disadvantaged children.
“It started with looking for a place to donate, and it kind of snowballed from there,” said Sari Winter, Sydney’s mother.
In school, Sydney learned about the importance of shelter and clothing and how fortunate she is. She became upset when she heard that some children do not have pajamas.
“Pajamas for 5-year-olds is meaningful to her,” said Sari. “It’s easily understood by her.”
Sydney receives birthday presents from her mom and dad, as well as from her grandparents and other relatives. But she understands even at her young age that she doesn’t need 20 new toys, her mom says. Her parents say they are incredibly proud of her.
“It’s great. There is a need right here locally, and it’s something we want the children to understand and appreciate how lucky they are,” said Sari. “And it’s important to give back.”
The Westchester County Department of Social Services, which partners with the Pajama Program, learned of Sydney’s pajama donation. Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino presented her with a certificate of appreciation in his White Plains office.
“You are never too young to start giving back,” he said in a statement. “As parents we should always encourage our children to lend a hand to those less fortunate. Sydney is a great example to all of us on how we can contribute to our communities. Even the tiniest gesture can have a profound impact on someone’s life.”
Sydney hopes to continue donating pajamas next year, and the family is brainstorming donation ideas for Sydney’s younger siblings’ birthdays.
“If other people do the same thing, it instills a charity work ethic in the little kids at a young age,” said Sari.
If you wish to make a donation, contact Stephanie Bisaccia, president of the Westchester Chapter of Pajama Program, at 845-235-4212 or Stephanie@pajamaprogram.org.