Thousands of children in this country sleep on a sofa, in a chair or on the floor. Often because the price of a new bed puts it out of reach for their family. Additionally, some families have successfully transitioned from shelters to permanent housing, but have no furniture. Others may have lost furniture in fires or floods.
Giving a child a bed can significantly improve his/her quality of life. “Sleep quality affects virtually every aspect of a child,” said Sleepyhead Beds board member Dr. Kevin C. Smith, a licensed pediatric clinical psychologist who is also board certified in behavioral sleep medicine. “I see it first hand with my patients. Mood, attention, academics, physical health – all can improve if a child sleeps well. And they can’t do that without a bed.”
But, there are many perfectly good, gently-used beds that could help these children. People who purchase a new bed often get rid of the old mattress by throwing it out for lack of a better solution. So one organization – Sleepyhead Beds, saw this as an opportunity to become a “bed matchmaker.” Located in Kansas City, Missouri, Sleepyhead Beds is a non-profit organization that collects gently-used beds and gives them to families in need – free-of-charge! Once a bed is donated, they pick it up and take it to their facility to be sanitized, using a mattress industry standard process, and then they clean each mattress with a UV vacuum. Only then does it get their “kid-worthy” seal of approval and matched with a new home.
“From start to finish, it costs about $60 to retrieve a bed, get it ready for use, and either deliver it directly to a family, or have it picked up by the family at our warehouse,” said Jamie Berry, Sleepyhead Beds Executive Director. “We are able to provide the bed free of charge to families by collecting a nominal bed pick-up fee from the person who donated it. But it is mainly the philanthropic support from generous individuals, foundations and corporations in the community that allows us to do what we do. We really couldn’t do it without them.”
Since its inception in 2010, Sleepyhead Beds has given away over 12,000 beds to Kansas City area children in need. An added bonus: that’s 330 tons of diverted landfill waste or four times the weight of the space shuttle! With all these beds being saved, Sleepyhead Beds still has an average of 500 children on its wait list at any time.
“When I talk about what we do at Sleepyhead Beds, I think what really surprises most people is the scope of the problem – that there are so many children without beds,” said Sleepyhead Beds board member Kelly Reinhardt. “I frequently recommend that people consider volunteering at our distribution site by helping sort donated bedding, loading the beds on recipients’ vehicles or delivering them to their homes. Then you can see first-hand the huge difference a good bed can make in the life of a child. It’s moving.”
“We hope our work inspires other cities to create programs like Sleepyhead Beds, since this is a nationwide problem,” said Berry. “Locally, there are so many families we still are unable to serve, since we are the only organization in our area whose sole mission is to get beds for kids. But we keep going, one bed at a time.”
There are many ways to help give a child the number one thing they need to get a good night’s sleep. Head to http://sleepyheadbeds.org to learn how to donate and help us with our mission of getting beds to Kansas City children in need. #Beds4KCKids