A few weeks ago you voted Project Night Night, an organization that assembles and delivers packages filled with new blankets, stuffed animals and books to homeless and domestic violence shelters as one of your seven favorite charities in the city. Congrats to Project Night Night! They'll be receiving a $700 gift from us for the holidays for their great work in the city.
If you'd like to see Project Night Night profiled in our February issue as a "Charity You Love," vote here.
We spoke with founder and director Kendra Stitt Robins about Project Night Night's work, impact and ways to get involved over the holidays.
What gave you the idea to start Project Night Night?
Prior to Project Night Night, I was a corporate attorney and my husband and I traveled a lot. My son was always sleeping in different locations and the one thing that comforted him was his Goodnight Moon book and his blanket. I thought: "what a difference a little nighttime comfort items can make in a child's life." Domestic violence victims usually have to leave their homes quickly with no possessions, and having a Night Night package at the shelter reminds the children that someone thought about them. It helps them sleep and reduces trauma.
I can imagine that that's especially true over the holidays.
Definitely. We had a little boy who was in a domestic violence shelter. He went to the director and said "how is Santa going to find me if I'm not allowed to tell anyone where I live?" The director called us up and asked us to deliver packages so that their kids could still believe in Santa. In that way, Project Night Night plays a bigger role: it helps kids to not lose their faith in Christmas and be deprived from being a kid.
How did you start?
I started very simply in 2005, literally making packages on my living room floor. Now we do 25,000 Night Night packages a year, have a staff of 3 and 10,000 volunteers. We have three warehouses where we store blankets, books and stuffed animals that people send in.
How can people get involved?
You can sign up to adopt Night Night packages on our website and commit to filling a certain number of bags. A lot of people get together with their friends to fill bags for us. Then you can choose a shelter from our website in your area that you wish to donate the bags to.
You can also sponsor Night Night Packages on our website. A financial contribution allows us to fill packages ourselves and take shelters off of our waiting list.
What should go in the bags?
We ask that the blankets be new. It's really a special thing for a child to have a new blanket. We once had a little boy in a shelter who got a blanket that still had the tags on it. He didn't want to take the tags off because he thought "then my blanket won't be new anymore." It's really meaningful for them. Packages should also have a book (ages 0-10) and a stuffed animal. But you can fill them with whatever else you think might be nice for the kids as well. Some people add in sippy cups, playing cards, anything they think a child might like.
How can people donate items to Night Night packages?
We have a drop off locations in the city at the Starbucks in Pacific Heights, the Bank of America Building on California Street and Hotel del Sol on Webster Street. (Click here to see all drop off locations).
What are you most in need of?
Blankets. We are always looking for new blankets.
To donate to Project Night Night, click below.