Pyjama packs help foster hope

Foster Hope co-ordinator Juanita Willems holds a range of pyjamas donated  for foster children in...
Foster Hope co-ordinator Juanita Willems holds a range of pyjamas donated for foster children in Otago and Southland. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

New fluffy pyjamas, some embellished with spaceships, others with pink unicorns, elephants, tigers and rabbits, will help put a smile on the faces of foster children throughout Otago and Southland this winter.

Foster Hope Otago co-ordinator Juanita Willems said 400 pairs of pyjamas had already been given by the public for the annual new pyjama drive, and there was still a week to go.

The support was overwhelming, she said.

The public could drop off pyjamas at various businesses and Ms Willems said there had even "been parcels left on the doorstep at my house.''

The pyjamas were packed into backpacks along with items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, story books, toys, soap, facecloths and hats and given to the children when they arrived at their new homes, as they often came with nothing but the clothes on their backs, she said.

She worked closely with Child, Youth and Family.

"They will always ring me if they need some [pyjamas].''

Ms Willems, her husband and volunteers had recently packed 50 backpacks, and had taken them to Child, Youth and Family, she said.

"I make them up as we go.''

The children came from situations which were not good, she said.

"The needs varied so much,'' she said.

Foster Hope chairwoman Louise Allnutt said there were about 5000 children in foster care in New Zealand.

She would love to be able to give a pair of pyjamas to every child, she said.

Foster Hope Otago makes up to 400 backpacks a year.

They were mainly sent to Child, Youth and Family, who kept some on hand in case they were needed in a hurry, she said. In 2015, 3270 pairs of new pyjamas were given to Foster Hope.

‚óŹ New pyjamas can be left at The Warehouse South Dunedin, Orphan's Aid, Z petrol stations, Mitre 10 Mosgiel, Postie Plus, Les Mills and Mornington Unichem Pharmacy.

- Julie Howard 

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