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Ulen-Hitterdal students donate pajamas, books to those needing a little comfort

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When Ulen-Hitterdal third grade teacher Jodi Flaten started writing her annual Christmas letter to her students and their parents, she decided that instead of exchanging gifts, maybe they should provide gifts for those less fortunate.

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She did some research and found the Pajama Program, a national organization with a chapter in Minnesota. She contacted the chapter and learned that the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center in Detroit Lakes took donations from the organization. Flaten ran it by her students and all were on board.

So for two weeks in December, students in kindergarten through 12 were encouraged to bring new pajamas and books for kids to donate to the Crisis Center.

"Every day they donated, they could wear pajamas to school that day," she said. "The kids loved it. They thought it was a great idea."

The students ended up donating 75 pairs of pajamas for kids-adults and 174 books.

"We give them out to clients we work with," Crisis Center's Leona Ulrich said. "It's the comfort in the little things -- clean pajamas and a storybook to read to them."

She said that the Crisis Center appreciates the support of the community and groups, like the Ulen-Hitterdal students, so that they have items like pajamas and books to hand out when the need is there.

"It's nice to have comfort things for kids when they need them," Ulrich said. "It's an extra little measure of comfort and support."

Flaten said she'd like to do the fundraiser as a yearly drive.

"It's a great lesson for kids," she said.

And once Christmas rolled around and there were no gifts at the school party, she said she didn't hear one complaint.

"It was real positive."

For more information on the Pajama Program, visit www.pajamaprogram.org.

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