Grandma’s Pajamas sews comfort

Shannon CareyFeature, Fountain City

It might be hard to believe that, for some, pajamas are a luxury. But when you’re struggling to buy daytime clothing for your kids, PJs are probably low on the priority list.

But there’s a group of women in Fountain City who are plying their scissors and needles to help make that luxury a reality for kids in need. The group is called Grandma’s Pajamas, and last year they made more than 200 sets of cozy, flannel pajamas for children served by the Fountain City Ministry Center.

But that’s not all. They also send dresses and shorts with shirts, more than 100 of each, on the Fountain City Presbyterian Church mission trips to Belize. Last year they made 55 positioning beanbags for infants at UT Medical Center, 31 tote bags for children entering foster care and exam gowns for ChildHelp. And they’re always looking for new projects.

Grandma’s Pajamas got its start eight years ago at Fountain City Presbyterian Church. Joan Biddle and Pat Wyrick are co-chairs of the ministry.

Chris Leach cuts material to make flannel pajama pants for children in need.

“This started as a mission for just pajamas for Fountain City Ministry Center,” said Biddle. “It started as asking people to buy and donate pajamas through the church to the center because most of the children who are served there do not have pajamas. Pat and I were talking one night and we said that pajamas are so expensive to buy, and we just said, well, you know we really could make pajamas a lot cheaper than we’re buying.”

They got started with a combination of funding from the church’s mission committee and donated materials. Today, the volunteers of Grandma’s Pajamas meet at the church 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday from September to May to sew and chat. Sometimes they go out for lunch, but most days they bring their own lunches.

“It’s a fellowship group, too,” said Biddle. “We have a good time. We have retired school teachers. I’m a retired nurse. We have office workers, homemakers, just a group of ladies who like to get together.”

They make flannel pajama pants and purchase long-sleeved T-shirts to go with them. Average sewing day attendance is 12. Jobs are available for all levels of sewing experience, from cutting and ironing to the sewing itself.

The group is always accepting donations, both of materials, time and money. They accept all kinds of material and sewing notions, and any that can’t be used locally are sent with the Threads of Hope mission to Belize to help teach sewing skills to women.

Monetary donations should be made through the church, but Biddle said she will pick up any donations of materials. Their biggest expense is the T-shirts, which they purchase wholesale but are still $2-$3 per shirt.

“I’m always saying this is what we’re supposed to be doing because it seems like when we think we’re going to run out of money or material or supplies somebody comes through,” Biddle said. “We’ve been pretty blessed and taken care of.

New volunteers are always welcome, and participation is not limited to Fountain City Presbyterian Church members.

“The main thing is the children,” said Biddle. “It’s hard to believe that children don’t have nice, warm pajamas to go to bed in at night. In some cases, it’s a luxury. It just makes you feel like they will feel safer and warmer. Everybody likes a good pair of flannel pajamas.”

To donate funds to Grandma’s Pajamas, call the church office at 865-688-2163. To donate material or supplies, call Biddle at 865-687-1517.

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