JANESVILLE

As a child, Kelly Bedessem remembers opening one present every Christmas Eve.

The gift was always a pair of pajamas.

Bedessem, Janesville’s housing services director, said that memory inspired her to make Dec. 24 on the city’s new Kindness Calendar a day for pajama donations.

The Kindness Calendar is the city’s primary charitable effort for 2019. In past years, the city has hosted drives for peanut butter, school supplies and socks for those who need them.

This year, Bedessem reached out to local nonprofits and asked them about their most needed items. Each item has its own day on the calendar between Dec. 1 and 24.

The city will collect items for the calendar—and anything else people want to donate—at all city facilities throughout the month, Bedessem said.

This is the first holiday season for Hedberg Public Library’s new branch at the Janesville Mall. Bedessem hopes people will see the library’s storefront and remember to pick up items for the calendar while shopping at the mall.

Shopping for charity drives is one way to get friends and family involved in the spirit of the holidays, she said. Some city employees have told Bedessem they plan to take their kids shopping for the Kindness Calendar.

“A really neat side benefit is you can take the family out and show them what it is like to give,” she said. “Even if you did the entire calendar, it (does not cost) an exorbitant mount of money.”

Calendar items will be donated to the House of Mercy, YWCA Rock County, Salvation Army, ECHO, Community Action, Project 16:49 and GIFTS Men’s Shelter.

Beth Tallon, public relations manager at Community Action, said the nonprofit always needs consumable products.

One of Community Action’s missions is helping homeless and low-income people find temporary and permanent housing. Those clients need dish soap, laundry soap, toilet paper, glass cleaner and other products because moving is expensive and those items add to the cost, Tallon said.

Many people think of canned food, coats and toys when it comes to holiday giving, but less common things such as ice melt can make a big difference, Bedessem said.

Community Action’s Twin Oaks Homeless Shelter started a 12 Days of Twin Oaks campaign in November, encouraging people to donate 12 cleaning supply items the shelter needs, Tallon said.

A Facebook post for the 12 days fundraiser reached 50,000 people and inspired many to donate, she said.

The shelter also ran a reverse Advent calendar fundraiser that asked people to give an item to the shelter every day leading up to Christmas, Tallon said.

They might not be glamorous, but donated cleaning supplies or personal hygiene products can make life a lot easier for those who need them, she said.

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