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Generosity, Community Define “PJ Day”

When Justin Massaro saw a flier promoting a PJ Day fundraiser in the Manchester Public School district, he asked his daughters a question:

“Do you want daddy to pay the donation or do you want to take it out of your piggy banks?”

Laila, who is at the Preschool Center, and Lily, who is a kindergartner at Martin, both said they wanted to empty their piggy banks to support kids at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

“I was surprised,” dad said, “But I was proud of them.”

The piggy banks contained a substantial amount of money and the girls’ donations added to thousands raised throughout the district on Friday.

““I’m thrilled by the overwhelming support and participation of the Manchester community,” said Kate Kantrow, the Washington Elementary School teacher who spearheaded the campaign. ”It has amazed me to see students, parents, staff, and local organizations join together to support such an important cause.”

The initial suggestion came from a parent, said Kantrow, who then approached Superintendent Matt Geary, who gave the project his blessing and said that other principals were welcome to have their schools be part of the campaign if they chose.

And so it was that on Friday -- thankfully a mild, dry day -- students and staff descended on schools in droves wearing PJs, onesies, robes, even slippers. It was business as usual academically but -- as the accompanying photos attest -- with a comfy vibe.

Some highlights:

  • The Manchester Area Conference of Churches and their program director Shannon Baldassario purchased 17 new pajamas for families at the Preschool Center.

  • Bob Jeram of LifeSong Church donated another 20 new pajamas, which were distributed throughout the Title I schools in the district.

  • At MHS, students and staff posed in PJs while holding a #DStrong banner. The pictures were posted on Facebook as part of the campaign to help make Dorian Murray  (who lives in Rhode Island) famous as part of the 8-year-old cancer patient’s dying wish.

  • Washington Elementary (which also had a movie night on Friday that was well attended), raised more than $500 (not including online donations).

  • Robertson raised $656 between staff and student donations (meaning teacher Michael Moynihan has to make good on his vow to shave off his goatee of 10 years).

  • The final total for Martin was $786.19, with four classes raising over $100 each. Verplanck raised $749.32 and also donated cards and homemade blankets. Bennet raised  $1,033.

  • The Journal Inquirer had a photo of Kantrow and her class on the front page and a nice story inside.

Kantrow said the total amount raised won’t be known until early in the week.

Geary said he was impressed but not surprised by the response.

“We are fortunate to have many, many thoughtful and generous people in our school system and throughout our community,” he said.

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