Red River High School, police department conducting community pajama drive

New pajamas will go to several organizations to distribute to those in need before Christmas.

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Leigh Olson has gathered nearly 2,000 pairs of pajamas for kids who need them at CVIC, St. Joseph's Parsonage and the Anne Carlsen Center through an annual community pajama drive. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The Red River High School Student Council and Grand Forks Police Department will be collecting pajamas of all sizes -- or monetary donations to purchase pajamas -- for those in need from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, at Door 11 of the school at 2211 17th Ave. S.

The pajamas will be donated to the Community Violence Intervention Center, St. Joseph’s Social Care, the Anne Carlsen Center and Grand Forks Public Schools for distribution to people in need, said Leigh Olson, who started the community pajama drive about 10 years ago.

So far, she’s collected nearly 480 pajamas for men, women and children, Olson said. Last year, the drive brought in about 1,600 pajamas. Her nine-year total is about 8,600, she said.

Those who donate at the RRHS drive-thru site Monday will receive hot cocoa as a gesture of thanks, said Tyler Nelson, activities director at the school.

Donations also are being accepted at the Mexican Village, 1218 S. Washington St., Performance Chiropractic, 4350 S. Washington St., and Thrifty White Pharmacy, 2475 32nd Ave. South.


In the past, a lot of Grand Forks schools have been involved in the project, holding their own pajama drives, Olson said. That activity has been curtailed by the pandemic, but some efforts are under way or being considered at Century, Discovery and Lake Agassiz elementary schools.

Olson is planning to collect donations by Friday, Dec. 18, sort them over that weekend and deliver them to the charitable organizations for distribution before Christmas.

“Who doesn’t love a new pair of pajamas? They make you feel warm and loved and like you’re getting a hug. They make people smile, and everyone needs to smile at Christmastime," she said.

And the donor also benefits.

“When you do good, you feel good -- that’s what I tell people," Olson said.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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