Carl Wilde School 79 has the largest population of refugee families in Indianapolis Public Schools. Principal Joyce Akridge knows that many of these families flee their countries with just the clothes on their backs. With the prospect of a cold, Indiana winter foreign to many of these families, Akridge launched a Pajama Giveaway as a way to support the families.

“I wanted to give a gift of warmth during this holiday season to let the families know that we love them and support them,” Akridge said.

The idea of a Pajama Giveaway came from a family tradition. “When I was a child growing up in the inner city of Indianapolis, my family always made sure that we had warm pajamas during the holiday season,” Akridge said. “This was a great financial undertaking as there were six of us and my family was poor.” To honor her family’s hard work, Akridge chose to continue the Pajama Giveaway tradition.

Faculty and staff donated generously to the giveaway, and to make sure they had enough pajamas for students, Carl Wilde staff reached out to a number of partners. Citizens Energy Group, The Forty Group, Indiana Fever player Shavonte Zellous and the Holman Family all donated.

The event was a huge success, and the school has plans to make it an annual event. IPS is proud to have principals like Joyce Akridge willing to take personal tradition and transform it into a service that benefits our community!