giving

Pajamas for All: 8-Year-Old Collects Cozy Donations For Kids in Need

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A lot has changed since we first met Oliver Koenig-Paquin last year.

Back then he asked for 1,000 pajamas to donate to kids in need and exceeded that goal. Now, he's another year older and a pandemic clouds everything. For Oliver, that just means he needs to do even more.

"People are losing their jobs, and it's harder to provide for their children," said Koenig-Paquin.

Oliver's Pajama Project came together when Oliver was just 4 years old. His preschool teacher asked students to donate a pair of PJs, but his parents say one wasn't enough for him.

"Brought in 122 pairs that first year in a matter of two weeks simply by asking family and friends, and he realized how powerful it was to get help from the community," said Oliver's mom, Danielle Paquin.

This year his goal is bigger than ever: 2,500 pajamas. And they'll go to kids across the state.

"Over the years I've collected over 2,500 pairs, so I wanted to double that to get another 2,500 pairs," said Oliver.

"We were blown away, but at the same time we were like, 'if anybody can do it, this kid is going to do it,'" said Paquin.

Two local Glastonbury businesses, Liquid Nirvana and Square Peg Pizzeria, reached out to the 8-year-old wanting to help.

"I think it's ridiculously cute. Donating a pair of pajamas, it just doesn't get any cooler than that," said Square Peg Pizzeria Chef Owner Dante Cistulli.

Cistulli says they opened last year and that despite tough times due to the pandemic, it's still just as important for them to give back.

"Part of being a business owner in a town is supporting them the way they support us," said Cistulli.

Those who drop off PJs at either location receive a $5 coupon to use whenever.

Already the PJs have been coming in from across the state and the country but a lot more work needs to be done. Oliver knows what it means to the kids who receive the PJs. Last year he was able to hand some of them out personally.

"It felt good to me to actually be able to hand out the pajamas to the kids who got to have the pajamas," said Oliver.

And his parents say he's learning a lot.

"I think he really learned the power of giving and how much it can help the community, how important it is for the community to come together and help one another. We shouldn't all be living life independent of one another, that we really need to come together and help support one another and how much further we can get when we do that," said Paquin.

Oliver hopes more people will donate to make sure thousands of kids have what they need when they head to bed.

"I think those kids would want to have a warm, snuggly night," said Oliver.

You can also drop off pajama sets at Margaret Wilcox, Watkins & Associates Real Estate Office at 212 New London Turnpike, Unit C, Glastonbury, CT 06033. The business says there's a COVID-safe drop off box in the entryway.

Oliver's Pajama Project is asking for new pajama sets that include tops and bottoms. They're taking all sizes, from newborn to 3XL because they're looking to give PJs to infants all the way up to 18-year-olds. The deadline to give is December 15 and the PJs will be handed out before Christmas. You can also give a monetary donation.

For more information, visit the Oliver's Pajama Project Facebook page.

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