When 10-year-old Miles Allen surveys the piles of donated pajamas, one thing stands out.
"They're all really tiny," he said with a sense of wonder.
They may be small in size, but the pajamas are a big deal to some of the littlest people in need in the community.
Four years ago, Miles and his friend Cole Benton, 11, both east Sacramento boys, started collecting new pajamas from their neighbors for babies and toddlers staying at the Sacramento Crisis Nursery, a program of the Sacramento Children's Home.
Each year, the Pajama Project has grown along with its founders, and this year the boys are hoping to collect 1,000 pairs of pajamas for kids from birth to age 8 during the cold weather season.
"We just wanted to help children who don't have as much as we do," Cole said. "We thought of pajamas because we thought that would keep kids warm during the winter season. I think it makes them feel like a lot of people in the world care about them."
For the fourth consecutive year, the two boys went to front doors of homes in their neighborhood in mid-November, leaving notes with ribbons attached asking for donations of new pajamas for boys or girls.
People who want to donate leave the pajamas on their front porches with the ribbon attached, and the boys pick them up on a designated day.
The first year, when the boys were just 6 and 7 years old, they collected 157 pairs of pajamas from neighbors within four blocks of their homes, but by last year, they had expanded their collection area, and were able to donate 527 pairs of pajamas to the nursery.
The crisis nursery takes in children from newborn to age 5 for up to 30 days when their families are having trouble, said Sarah Mullins, marketing manager for the home. The parents, often single mothers, may be escaping a violent situation or getting into a drug recovery program. Others may have a sudden illness or accident, become hospitalized or be in emotional distress.
"Whenever a parent is feeling like they may not be giving the best care to their children, we take them in," Mullins said. "Many of the parents are single, and don't have friends or family in town, and are parenting on their own. They can leave their kids here and they know they are safe, well taken care of, and they don't have to worry about not getting their kids back."
Mullins said the nursery served 3,515 babies and toddlers in the past year.
"But in the past 12 months, the crisis nursery also had to turn away 710 babies and kids for lack of funding," she said. "So there's still a huge need for more help."
Donations of new pajamas, with tags attached, may also be dropped off at the home, 2750 Sutterville Road, and at three local businesses: the Pasty Shack, 4746 J St.; East-J-Barber Shop, 4736 J St.; and East Sacramento Hardware, 4800 Folsom Blvd.
Mullins said the pajama donations allow the home to use precious resources elsewhere, such as buying food and diapers for the young guests at the nursery. Because of the Pajama Project, each baby at the nursery will go home with a pair of new, warm pajamas through the cold season.
Miles hopes the donations will make life easier for children living in crisis housing.
"I think it's good to give them pajamas, because they can get cold and sick," he said. "I think it makes them feel happy there and welcomed there."