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Project Night Night: Providing Homeless Children With Comfort and Care

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Where is the best place to start when helping the homeless? Many families in the U.S. are experiencing challenging times during this tough economy. According to the National Center for Family Homelessness, there are over 1.5 million homeless children which equates to about 1:50 children without a home (Source: www.familyhomelessness.org). This is the greatest number of homeless children since the Great Depression. Family homelessness often goes unnoticed as most do not live on the streets, but in shelters, cars, low-income hotels, or friends and family members homes (Source: www.projectnightnight.org).

I had the opportunity to speak to one woman whose organization Project Night Night is helping to ease the challenges for these homeless children. Kendra Stitt Robins, a former Corporate Attorney who use to start non-profit organizations (NPO) for others, decided to start her own NPO when she saw the need for some comfort for homeless and displaced children. The idea to start Project Night Night came to her years ago after traveling around the country with her young son. She realized that it didn’t matter where her son slept at night as long as he had some familiar things from home such as his favorite blanket, book, and stuffed animal.

She realized that some of these children come from domestic violence situations where they are barely able to get out of their homes with the clothes on their backs, much less their favorite toys or books. Project Night Night works with homeless shelters across the country and provides tote bags filled with a stuffed animal, an age-appropriate book, and a baby blanket for children ages 0-10 in the shelters. Ms. Robins says that it is her hope that the children realize that someone thought of them during this difficult time and that they are important and significant. Her wish is that their situation, whatever it might be, doesn’t define their whole life.

The Project Night Night Organization has grown to 10,000 volunteers across the United States, is run by a staff of only three (3), and has amazingly sent out over 25,000 packages each year since it was started in 2005! They are the leading provider of nighttime comforts for homeless children (Source: www.projectnightnight.org). Once they find a shelter, either by a volunteer bringing the shelter to their attention, or by someone on staff, that shelter will continually receive tote bags. Ms. Robins says that once they are in their system, they are committed to providing totes bags on a consistent basis.

She says that gently-used stuffed animals and books are greatly appreciated. As long as these items look new, then they are more than happy to accept these items.However, they do require that the baby blanket be new. They wanted to provide a Project Night Night Tote Bag because they found that many children do not have a bag to carry their items. This is a great organization and such kindness could affect a children’s outlook on their situation.

If you would like to donate some tote bags to a local shelter near you, please contact Project Night Night to learn how at: www.projectnightnight.org. This would make a wonderful Girls Scouts, School or Church Project! This type of organization is able to do what they do by the generosity of others.

How do you help those in need throughout the year? What do you and your family plan to do during the holidays to help those in need, specifically the homeless?

Melissa Northway, M.S. in Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer, and her company, Polka Dots Publishing, produces children’s picture book apps. Her first storybook app, Penelope the Purple Pirate, has been chosen as a Top 10 Educational iPad App. She is working with a local Southern California shelter and will to donate 50 Tote Bags filled with donated bla bla dolls, Penelope books, and baby blankets. You can reach her at: www.melissanorthway.com, @melissanorthway and mcube@sbcglobal.net.

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