In most circles, Reese Shelly is your average third grader known simply by his name.
But in a growing number of groups, he’s called a “pyjama ambassador”.
Reese, and more and more of his friends including four-year-old sister Kiera, spread the word through school announcements and assemblies, collecting donated new pyjamas to be dropped off at locations across the Lower Mainland for the third annual Christmas Pyjama Drive.
“A lot of my friends think its pretty cool and want to join,” said the curly-haired and freckled eight-year-old, who is the CEO and president of the drive.
Reese is also the son of Richmond’s Browns Socialhouse co-owner Todd Shelly, which celebrates Pyjama Drive Day in support of the campaign on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Those who show up at any Lower Mainland Browns location with pyjamas to donate will receive 50 per cent off their meal.
The idea for a pyjama drive came from a conversation between Reese and his mother Erin Shelly.
In an attempt to explain charity to her then six-year-old son, Shelly mentioned that some children don’t receive Christmas presents. To which Reese asked, not even pyjamas?
“I thought it was a really neat connection for Reese to make,” said Shelly. “It’s a cozy Christmas morning tradition we’ve always done. We open the pyjamas Christmas Eve so the kids snuggle into them for Christmas morning.
“But it’s a luxury, which are always the first to get cut.”
Reese’s question prompted the two of them to research if there were any drives dedicated to the donation of pyjamas in the Lower Mainland.
Discovering there weren’t, they decided to start one, partnering with the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, which serves Richmond, the Surrey Bureau and the Delta Assist.
In the first year, Shelly sent out emails to friends and family, and managed to collect 365 pairs — a number which rose to 1,422 last year.
Through Browns’ promotions and press publicity, several Lower Mainland elementary schools have jumped on board, acting as a drop off point for donations and having kids raise awareness through posters. The contributions now include other bedtime paraphernalia such as teddy bears and robes.
“It’s really exploded,” said Shelly. “It’s such a simple, comforting idea. And it’s really shown Reese a lot about the generosity of the community. People really came when called.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/The.Christmas.Pyjama.Drive, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.