PJ Library has been a fixture for many families in Jewish Atlanta for years, but Feb. 23, the national book-gifting program will be holding its first major local fundraiser, and true to form, it’s aiming to be fun for the whole family.
“Atlanta already has so many fundraisers out there for adults, so why don’t we do a family fundraiser and really teach kids about tzedakah and giving back?” said Sarah Bernstein, PJ Library family impact associate. “I think supporting our community through the eyes of everyone, from our littlest 1- and 2-year-olds all the way to our grandparents.”
The party was inspired by the original idea behind PJ Library. PJ stood for pajama, as the founder hoped to provide bedtime stories to Jewish children. The party itself invites participants to show up in their own PJs.
“We thought it might be fun to center this around the whole bedtime routine, since it’s such a fun thing for children as young as 6 months old,” Bernstein said. “So come in your pajamas, we’re going to have breakfast for dinner and we really want to bring PJ alive through the couple of hours we have with our families.”
PJ Library serves more than 5,000 children in Atlanta between the ages of 6 months and 8 years old, and the “PJ Our Way,” program adds another 1,000 kids from 8 to 12 who receive chapter books.
“The two things people always say to me first, are: ‘Where did these books come from and who’s paying?’” Bernstein said. “The books come from nationals, but a large part of the funding is coming from local donors. We want our families to know that as much as it is a free program, we want to sustain that for more generations to come.”
She added that while, of course, fundraising and bringing people together was a big goal for the event, so too was boosting PJ Library’s profile in Atlanta.
“We want to raise awareness that PJ is more than just a book in your mailbox,” she said. “Getting these books can be the first step in what you want your Judaism to look like.”
In addition to PJ, the program will also be supporting two local programs, Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, and the Pajama Program, which provides needed nighttime supplies and comfort to underprivileged children. Bernstein explained that she hoped to give the children some agency in giving back to the broader community.
“It’s really cool to have these families giving and getting at the same time, and using PJ’s model to bring the community together,” she said.
In addition, Atlanta Jewish Academy, The Davis Academy and The Epstein School will be helping through volunteers and performances such as Israeli dance.
The party takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at The Weber School.