British Columbia

B.C. boy's pyjama drive helps thousands this Christmas

A nine-year-old boy in Surrey is delivering 3,500 pairs of pyjamas to needy children in his community, and has inspired a movement of Christmas pyjama drives across B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

9-year-old Reese Shelley has collected pyjamas to give to needy children for the past 3 years

B.C. boy helps kids get pyjamas for Christmas

8 years ago
A 9-year-old boy from Surrey, B.C., is collecting pyjamas for less fortunate kids. 2:53

Three years ago, nine-year-old Reese Shelley's life changed because of a pair of Christmas pyjamas.

The then-six-year-old received a pair for the holidays, as he does every year, and was inspired to begin collecting nightclothes for other children when he realized how lucky he was. 

His mother, Erin Shelley, said he was shocked to learn other children didn't receive the kind of gifts he did.

"It just started with his little words, 'they don't even get pyjamas mum?' when I was trying to explain to him why some kids just don't receive what he does at Christmas," she said.

The first year, the Surrey, B.C., family set a goal of collecting 50 pairs of pyjamas — the family collected 300.

So, Reese set a new goal for the following Christmas.

"One time he says, 'yeah, I want there to be 1,000 pairs of pyjamas' and that's what he told us. And  then all of a sudden he started talking to someone else, 'no I want 1,500.' OK, that's our new goal I guess, and we run with that," said his father Todd Shelley.  

As news of the Christmas pyjama drive spread, collections sprang up throughout B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and across the border into Washington state. Every pair of pyjamas stays in the community where it's collected.

Reese Shelley, 9, of Surrey, B.C., has recruited friends and family to help him with his annual Christmas pyjama drive. (CBC)

Reese Shelley also promotes the cause at schools and community groups, and has inspired a growing network of child "pyjama ambassadors."

"I wanted to help them, so I just gathered some friends and family and said 'I need help, I can't do this by myself,'" he said. 

This year, he led a legion of Santa's helpers to his local Christmas charity, bearing more than 3,500 sets of jammies for other kids.

"I feel like I've done something, that I've tucked somebody in for Christmas Eve," he said.

with files from the CBC's Curt Petrovich


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?