Editor’s Note: This story is the second in a series highlighting how local business, organizations, churches and schools give back this holiday season. The series will run every Tuesday in the Community section through Dec. 25.
HIAWATHA – A long’s winters nap will be more comfortable for several Eastern Iowans.
For nearly 20 years, more than 100 Slumberland Furniture stores in 12 states have donated new beds to families in need through its Making Homes for the Holidays program. The donation of bed frames, box springs and mattresses is funded by employee donations. The stores then pair with local non-profit organizations to locate individuals in need of the most basic of furniture.
In Cedar Rapids, Partnership for Safe Families and Four Oaks work with Slumberland and other non-profit organizations for years to identify these families, and assist with deliveries.
“The face of a child who has their own bed for the first time, who will no longer be sleeping on the floor, is just amazing,” says Dave Loy, director of Partnership for Safe Families. “You can’t walk away without tears in your eyes.”
But a bed, no matter how appreciated, is nothing without sheets, blankets and pillows. Unfortunately, families unable to afford a bed aren’t likely to be able to purchase these items either, which is why Loy reached out to Community of Christ of Hiawatha for help.
Loy, who was previously the full-time minister at Community of Christ, asked the Rev. Brenda Mitchell if the congregation would be willing to purchase new bedding for the beds.
The response was immediate.
“As a congregation, we feel that we have been blessed and we have an opportunity to share our blessings with others,” Mitchell says.
This is the third year Community of Christ patrons has purchased twin and full-size sheets and comforters, plus pillows, for the Making Homes for the Holidays program. The number of items needed varies by year – this year the church needs 17 twin bed sets and 5 full bed sets – but the spirit of giving remains the same.
“This is our way of making sure that these individuals go to bed the way we imagines, snuggling under the blankets with the comforter pulled to their chin,” Mitchell says.
Loy says the program received more than 60 requests for beds this year. Top priority is given to children currently sleeping on the floor.
“We want to get them off the floor immediately,” Loy says.
The selection process is over for this year, but Partnership for Safe Families will accept donations of new pillows or bedding. Extra items will be stored for next year’s program.
All new beds – and bedding – will be delivered to the selected individuals on Dec. 5. The day-long event will begin with a kickoff breakfast at Slumberland, after which employees and volunteers will load up the trucks. The deliveries are made by volunteers and store employees.
“I like that the employees give their time to this project,” Loy says with a laugh. “They’re used to carrying beds. I’m not.”