COLUMBIA, Md. — One by one, Joan Lenczycki carefully sorts, rolls up and categorizes piles and piles of donated kids pajamas stored at the Casey Cares Foundation office in Columbia.
"You can do it pretty fast, it’s pretty easy," she said.
Lenczycki doesn't know how many pairs of pajamas she's rolled up but it is easily in the thousands over the last four and half years she's volunteered at Casey Cares.
"I just love it here, it gives me purpose. It's a weekly thing. I come on Tuesdays and I really, really enjoy the work we do here," she said.
Lenczycki said she came to know Casey Cares after doing a few volunteer stints with the non-profit through her sorority, Sigma Phi Gamma, the Kappa Kappa chapter. After she retired in 2015, she said she wanted to start a steady volunteer job and came back to Casey Cares.
"I just love it because I’ve met so many nice people and they’re all friends to me."
The Casey Cares Foundation works to provide experiences and memories to sick children and their families. One of the ways they do that is by giving kids donated sets of pajamas. They collect the PJs year-round but do a big donation push in April.
"We could not get the work done if it wasn’t for our unpaid staff, as we call them, because they’re a little bit more than volunteers to us," said Erin Ritter, the Deputy Associate Director at Casey Cares.
"We love Joan. She’s wonderful, she comes in every week with enthusiasm and a smile," said Ritter. "She’s quick to joke and so giving."
Ritter said the staff at Casey Cares developed a deeper appreciation for their unpaid staff members like Lenczycki when the pandemic first hit last year, forcing them to get the work done for several months without their volunteers.
"We continued doing our programs but it was definitely a lot more stressful," she said.
Lenczycki said it was tough to not be able to come to her weekly volunteer gig, but as soon as she could, she was right back in the office, sorting and rolling all those pajamas.
"Through this pandemic so many people have volunteered to help others. It’s amazing what the human spirit can do and I’d like to continue that in a small way," she said.
If you would like to donate pajamas to Casey Cares, click here for more information.