'Tis the season for longer lines and jam packed carts - but Whitehall resident Diane Pischke's cart literally runneth over. But there's only one thing on Diane's list. Lots and lots of pajamas. "It came to me one day with the holidays it would be nice to have needy children have a warm pair of pajamas for Christmas."
So four years ago, Diane started collecting pj's to donate to the Trempealeau County Human Resources Department. Year one, she collected more than 75 pairs. "And it's just escalated from there." The next year Diane added drop spots around Trempealeau county and even set up an account for donations. "Last year I had a lady come up to me at Kwik Trip and she was like 'I've got money for you.' And she counts out $400. And I cried. This year she came back and game me $500."
Diane's passion for PJ's has not gone unnoticed. In fact, she is lovingly referred to around town as the Pajama Grandma. "Everybody knows her as pajama grandma."
Deb Suchla is the Trempealeau County director of Human Resources and says this donation is so appreciated by the people who receive them. "It's families that have struggled for a long time, families that have recently struggled that don't know how to ask for help. It's such a variety of families that are benefiting because of what Pajama Grandma has done."
"It is really unique," adds Carol Ressler with the Trempealeau County Sheriff's Department. "They have the rest of it, the toys and coats and slippers. Now they have the pajamas. So it kind of ties up their whole day and makes a great Christmas for them."
But there is another reason for Diane's desire to give. The truth is she is actually giving 'back' what she recieved so many years ago. "At a time I had four kids and my husband was injured and things were pretty tough. And I couldn't believe the generosity of the community. And now it's time to give back."
This year she expects her grand total to be well over 1200 pairs. "I can't believe it."
"She's doing it from her heart," says Ressler. "For her to take the time to go shopping, to bring it here. That's pretty special."
Suchla adds, "there are so many people that are impacted by this and I don't think Diane has any clue how many people she is impacting this Christmas."
"Thank you for all you do. You make others dreams come true. You may not know it but you are the best pajama grandma in town." And I got this just before Thanksgiving. He said, 'I'm thankful for you and all you do."