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PJs 4 Xmas hopes to expand next year

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OGDENSBURG — Since it was founded in 2009, the goal of PJs 4 Xmas has stayed the same: to make sure all needy children in St. Lawrence County wake up with new pajamas on Christmas morning.

This year, PJs 4 Xmas founders Abigail and Camille E. Marshall have turned the organization into a certified nonprofit, obtained its own delivery truck and delivered 1,761 pairs of pajamas to children around the county.

Using a converted FedEx truck they purchased for $1,000, the girls delivered pajamas to several community organizations, including the Giving Tree, Heuvelton; the Neighborhood Center, A to Z Thrift Shop’s Christmas program and Renewal House in Canton and Salvation Army, Ogdensburg.

“A lot goes to Canton, since they are the county hub, and they can spread them out to other places,” said Melissa L. Carroll-Durham, the girls’ mother.

The girls also made sure every child in the county foster program received a pair, and delivered pairs to all of the Head Start programs in the county.

Abigail, 13, said her favorite part about gathering pajamas is cutting off the tags and individually stamping the pajamas for each girl or boy who will receive them.

“I think everything went well, and everyone was happy when they opened their pajamas,” Abigail said.

While the group was a little more than 200 shy of reaching its goal of 2,000 pairs this year, the sisters said they couldn’t be happier with how many pajamas they collected.

The girls didn’t get as many helpers this year but far more people supported the program, Camille, 16, said.

Because of their efforts, the girls are receiving recognition and support from all over the county. Several groups, including Girl Scout troops, volunteered to help tag pajamas.

“People are starting to recognize us in other townships like Massena and Potsdam and really help us fill those orders for pajamas,” Ms. Carroll-Durham said.

The girls said they received $7,405 in donations — more than ever before — which will be used to purchase pajamas and supplies for next year.

The organization spends $4,000 to set up drop boxes and post fliers around the county and purchase gasoline, and requires a lot of fundraising, Ms. Carroll-Durham said.

With their new nonprofit status, the girls hope to find sponsors and help children outside the county next year.

“They always say the first five years are the hardest, and they weren’t kidding,” Ms. Carroll-Durham said. “But people in the county are starting to know what we do and that is going to make a big difference for next year.”

Since 2009, the girls have helped give bed clothes to nearly 4,000 children in the county.

“I have to pinch myself to believe they are my kids,” Ms. Carroll-Durham said.

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