Honor Credit Union, Project Pajama partner for donation drive

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, November 30, 2023

DOWAGIAC — A campaign to help Dowagiac Union Schools students wake up in warm, cozy clothing on Christmas morning is closer to its goal after a donation from a local business.

Honor Credit Union of Dowagiac, 56337 M-51 S., pledged to donate 100 pairs of pajamas as part of a donation drive for the Project Pajama campaign. Founded by Dowagiac resident Beth Nate and sponsored by Dowagiac Union Schools, Project Pajama is a campaign seeking to acquire 250 new or never-worn pajama donations for school-aged children from now through Friday, Dec. 8. 

Donations are accepted at each Dowagiac Union Schools building, Baker’s Rhapsody, Wood Fire Trattoria, Macon 6 Basketball Academy in Mattawan, HCU Dowagiac and Sandy & Rachel’s Medical Massage. Project Pajama will then coordinate with the school district, which will then distribute pajamas prior to Christmas break to students in need.

Nate has been searching for ways to give back to the community since moving back to Dowagiac five years ago. After conducting a successful winter coat drive before the pandemic, Nate had spent the past few years thinking about what to do next before coming up with pajamas. From there, everything clicked.

“One, they’re not as expensive as coats, and two, there’s just something so magical about them,” Nate said. “They’re warm and cozy and for a little kid that doesn’t have a pair of pajamas. It’s just one thing that can bring some joy into their life before getting ready for bed. We wear pajamas to bed, we wear pajamas when we’re sick, we wear pajamas when we want to just lounge around.”

To spread the word, Nate created a flyer and posted it on social media where it caught the eye of HCU Community Assistant Vice President Janie Reifenberg. After discussing with HCU Dowagiac Branch Manager Linda Tyria, the credit union reached out to Nate about its interest in being involved. To date, HCU has raised about $900 in pajama purchases. Several pairs of pajamas have been hung up throughout the lobby area of the credit union to create a visual awareness. Pajama donations can be accepted and a box for monetary donations toward the campaign is also available.

“We were overwhelmed with the response from our members,” Riefenberg said. 

In addition, HCU is joined in the cause by Sandy & Rachel’s Medical Massage. HCU agreed to double the number of pajamas donated by Sandy & Rachel’s.

“It’s fun to help out our communities and have our businesses work together too for a common good,” she said. “Being a credit union, our roots are centered in education, so we wholeheartedly support anything to do with our schools. We thought this is an excellent way to support the students.”

Nate thanked HCU and the Dowagiac community for their support of Project Pajama.

“I grew up in Dowagiac, I know people here have generous hearts and want to help out,” Nate said. “I know there’s a lot of people here that need help and it’s so nice to see everyone come together. It’s just overwhelming to know that there’s a company here that I even know to reach out to that’s just overflowing with support not just from the employees but from the members that bank here. “It’s nothing short of amazing. I think there’s a whole lot of love in this community.”