Sleep Tight! Dream Bright! by Crystal Tingle
05/02/2017 12:17PM ● Published by Nancy Babin
Gallery: Beds4Kids [14 Images] Click any image to expand.
With a tub of popcorn in your lap and a soda in the cup holder, you more than likely saw it. And if you are like me, you’ve watched it since the theater over and over and over again (just ask my family). And if you haven’t seen it, go watch it! I know it’s a movie. I know they are just actors and actresses, but really good ones I happen to love! I know that Hollywood often embellishes a bit for the excitement and drama, but it IS about a true story. I also know that THIS story ended with happy dreams and a bright future for Michael Oher. But before the sweet dreams and the movie debuted to make us all feel good as we walked out, his reality was less than dreamy.
Michael Oher’s needs were real, basic needs, and those same needs are real and ongoing for thousands of other children just like him. Even as you read this, many happen to live in our beautiful “that doesn’t exist here” coastal paradise. Yes, I am talking about The Blind Side that came out in 2009, the beautiful, feel-good, tear-jerker, heart-full-when-you-leave-the-theater, happy ending kind of movie you want to watch over and over again, even years later. And because one family couldn’t turn a blind eye to his obvious need, they chose to open their hearts and home to him. While the Tuohys admit that he transformed their lives in an unimaginable way as well, they transformed his by giving him the opportunity to excel in the gift that was already within him, but above all, it started with the simplest provision that most of us take for granted everyday… a bed!
Do you remember that unforgettable heart-wrenching three-line exchange in the movie between Leigh Anne Tuohy and Michael Oher?
“I’ve never had one before,” Michael says.
Leigh Anne asks, “What, a room to yourself?”
“No,” Michael responds, “A bed.”
Yep! I cried here. In fact, it was one of those ugly display of emotion moments - the flood of tears and the multiple gasps of air that try to crawl up your lungs at the same time. It’s not pretty! But regardless of how disheveled we all may have looked coming out of the theaters, the movie delivered, bringing awareness to such a basic need largely overlooked and taken for granted by the majority of us who go about our starry lives day after day…a bed to sleep in. In this blessed nation where we have storage units for our overflow, no bed? Can you imagine?
One young woman had this thought as well and found it completely unacceptable! “Every child should be able to have a bed to dream in” was her declaration. Apparently she loved this movie as much or more than I did, and as she left the theater, found that she had an unquenchable thirst to affect change, and that is just what she did.
Beds4Kids founded by Lauren Glass is the result of this awareness. Lauren started this organization in 2010 because of the impact that same three-liner had on her. She began servicing the east Tennessee and Greater Atlanta area with beds for children and teens and has provided sweet dreams for over 400 youth since the start! As others began to see the need and feel the call to make a difference, additional chapters of Beds4Kids started to pop up in areas such as Birmingham and our very own Emerald Coast.
I honestly found myself caught off guard by this. I had no idea that in my own backyard, children were sleeping on floors and couches. But a sweet friend of mine who volunteers as a Guardian ad Litem, a person the court appoints to investigate what solutions would be in the best interests of a child, was not unaware. Ginger saw the need day in and day out. Over a cup of coffee, her friend Diane mentioned an article she had just read about Beds4Kids. It was at that moment they knew they had to make a phone call.
With Lauren’s direction and blessing, Ginger Davis and Diane Freeman started the first Florida Chapter of Beds4Kids in our beautiful area. Since October of 2016, they have provided beds for over 60 children and teens! But here is the other reality. Bed deliveries cost money - $250, to be precise. That amount provides the bed frame, mattress, pillow and a very special comforter and sheet set. So although they have provided 60 beds for 60 children in fewer than seven months, there is a waitlist of over 25 children and growing who are in need. A waitlist of over 25! That’s staggering! We are such a small community compared to cities like Atlanta and Birmingham. How can we have so many children without a bed to sleep in?
When I asked Ginger if I could write this article to bring awareness, I also asked if I could help with a bed delivery so I could understand in full what they do and the need that they face each day. I had the privilege to participate in three bed deliveries, and it was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. These sweet faces know we are coming to set up their very own bed, and they are excited! Ginger and Diane involve them in every step of the process. It gives the children ownership and a sense of pride to help. From unloading the van to putting the sheets and comforter on, they assist with it all…and then we celebrate! We celebrate the fact that starting today, they will sleep safe and dream big dreams! And yes, EVERY child does deserve that! (You too can watch a bed delivery at www.beds4kids.org.)
“A bed gives the platform for what the children and parents need to dream,” explains Ginger. “We had a young girl say, ‘I can now have a sleepover!’ Because who wants to have friends over to an empty room? What really inspires is the reaction of the children and even the parents. They see a bed as a platform for something better...a sleepover, or for the mom who cries who is now able to envision a reading place at bedtime, or for the mom who says she can buy curtains for the window of her two boys’ room. A bed gives hope and the ability to dream.”
So where do we go from here? Just like a bed…it starts with the basics!
*Beds4Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides beds to kids and teens who would otherwise be sleeping on the floor or on inadequate bedding.
*They hope to help solve the problem of inadequate bedding for children in need and for the community providers who are struggling.
*Families in need are found through community outreach, churches, schools and Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS) workers.
*Each bed delivery costs $250. This includes the frame, pillow, mattress and, as I mentioned before, a very special comforter and sheet set that is “researched” ahead of time. My three consisted of Paw Patrol, hot pink Minnie Mouse and Spider-Man! What a precious moment to watch that sweet little boy point out and name all the characters on his Paw Patrol comforter! The cost of each bed delivery is kept down because of community partnerships like Mattress Depot in Niceville. Stan and Karen Skipper, the owners, were looking for something just like this to be a part of when Ginger and Diane approached them. Each mattress and bed frame is purchased by Beds4Kids at cost! Special thanks to Mattress Depot for helping to make a difference!
So how can you partner with Beds4kids?
DONATE! Funding is needed. There is a waitlist for children who need a bed. Beds4Kids Florida Chapter will accept any amount. Do not feel like you can’t donate unless you give $250. Any amount given will be put toward a bed purchase for a child.
REFER! If you know of a family with children or teens who need a bed, contact Ginger Davis at (210) 410-8113 or go online to www.beds4kids.org and fill out an application. You may also email requests or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONNECT! Find Beds4Kids on Facebook at www.facebook.com/b4kinflorida to donate, connect, and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings and fundraising events. Make plans to attend the next fundraiser, Dinner of Dreams, a night of live jazz and culinary delight on Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 pm at One 20 Modern Bistro in Niceville. Contact Ginger or Diane to get your ticket! Like, follow and share to help get the word out. Offer fundraising ideas or ask how you can help or get involved.
As a mother of three boys, each of whom not only has his own bed but his own room as well, it wrecks me to know there are children out there with neither. Beds4Kids may have started in another state, but it has come home to make a difference in ours. Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” And these ladies have both...the dream to make a difference in the lives of over 60 children and counting and the courage to see it through to provide a bed for so many more who need one! Now, as a community, let’s do our part! Let’s dream big! Give a bed! Give a dream!
www.beds4kids.org (online applications here for a child who needs a bed)
@b4kinflorida –Instagram and Twitter