NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — For the past 24 years, the holiday season has been a season of giving back for Lori Lyons, owner of Beauty and the Bath in Wickford.
“From the beginning, as a new business owner and entrepreneur in my twenties, I always felt that I could use this platform to do good for this community where I was born and raised and that I would have support from my customers,” Lyons said. “I wanted to give back. One afternoon, I was home cleaning my house with the TV on, I was kind of half-listening, but going about my chores. There was a woman on the Oprah Winfrey Show telling her story of how she had gone into a homeless shelter to donate her children’s gently-used pajamas and read to the kids, and some of the children came up to her and asked what the pajamas were for. They had never seen pajamas, never mind owned or wore them. They slept in their clothes. That really struck me. She later founded the national charity, The Pajama Program, and it was her ‘Aha moment,’ and it really resonated with me.”
Inspired, Lyons went on to host her first Pajama Party event, which has since collected thousands of pairs of pajamas for children in need through the North Kingstown Giving Program by collecting unwrapped donated gifts of pajamas each year.
“This has been a major part of my life for 24 years,” Lyons said. “As so many friends and customers tell me, it wouldn’t be the holidays without our Pajama Party in the heart of our neighborhood. Shopping for kids’ pjs for my party has become part of their holiday traditions. It means a lot that after all the effort, if we bring a little sunshine to a child’s life, it’s all been worth it.”
It’s such an important part of Lyons’ life that she knew she would still need to hold the event this year while making some adjustments due to COVID-19. Thus, this year’s party will turn into a weeklong event from Sunday through Dec. 5, with the donation of pajamas being replaced by the donation of gift cards at the request of the North Kingstown Giving Program.
“This year, with COVID, the organization feels it’s safer for all involved to be able to provide gift cards for the families and we are happy to answer that call,” Lyons said. “We are collecting gift cards, in any amount, from local stores, big box retailers, online, even ours, that we will donate to the Giving Program.”
Customers who donate gift cards will receive a 20 percent off storewide discount.
Rather than having it as a one-night event, Lyons said she extended the charity drive into a week-long venture so as not to have too many people in the store at once, something which is even more important given the two-week pause announced by Gov. Gina Raimondo last week that will go into place Monday.
“Our first priority in this uncharted time is keeping everyone safe and healthy,” Lyons said. “There’s no possible way we can have crowds gather, like our usual party with food and raffles and such.”
For Lyons, the challenges brought on by COVID this year made holding such a charity drive all the more important.
“This year more than ever, folks are really up against it,” Lyons said. “If ever there was a need, it’s now. I am determined to keep our mission alive. This is our 24th Annual Pajama Party and we will continue to make a difference. Every child deserves a good night’s sleep. Good nights lead to good days. I am amazed at how my people show up for me year after year, and I am confident this year I can count on them.”
More information about the event will be posted to Beauty and the Bath’s Facebook page, under the same name, as well as their Instagram page, @beautyandthebathri, with Lyons promising a couple of surprise visitors that week at the shop and “some other magic in the works.”
Beauty and the Bath is located at 11 W Main Street in North Kingstown and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit their website, beautyandthebath.com.