FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - The United Way of Greater Fort Dodge’s Bridging the Gap program is working to provide beds for children who need them.
“We heard from our partner agencies that there was a huge need for low-income families for beds for their kids,” said Randy Kuhlman, United Way chief executive officer. “Our No. 1 priority when we heard that, because our focus is so much on youth, was addressing that whole issue with kids sleeping on floors.”
The need in the community was greater than anticipated, The Messenger (https://bit.ly/1LgpFub ) reported.
“Four years ago, we started a bed drive thinking, maybe we can get 20, 25 beds and that might solve the problem,” Kuhlman said. “Four years later, we’ve now gotten 550 kids off floors with beds.”
In total, that is about 10 beds per week that have been distributed. There is still a waiting list for beds, Kuhlman said.
“It’s a problem we’ve attacked and done a good job with that, but there’s still a need out there and we’re addressing that,” he said.
Many referrals come from city and area schools.
“When a child is sleeping on the floor, they’re not getting a good night’s sleep obviously. They’re coming to school tired, and when they’re tired they’re not ready to learn to their full capability,” Kuhlman said. “Not only is it the humanitarian thing to do, but it’s also tied to education.”
A bed and furniture donation drive is planned for June 13, with its location yet to be determined.
“We’re getting low on beds, as well as other types of furniture that families can use,” Kuhlman said.
One item that is badly needed is dressers, Kuhlman said.
“We are finding that a lot of kids, even if they have a bed, their clothes are just stacked on the floor because they don’t have a dresser,” he said. “That’s even been a bigger challenge than the beds have been. People tend to keep their dressers, because they use them for storage and what have you.”
Bridging the Gap’s volunteers are willing to collect the donations from people’s homes, and take them to the program’s warehouse.
Other furniture is also accepted, as well as household items.
“Some of these families literally have nothing, or very little,” Kuhlman said. “We call it a re-homing program.”
According to Kuhlman, the community has proven to be very generous.
“We’ve been amazed at the people that have called us and donated,” he said. “We don’t take junky furniture. We want to make sure our beds and our furniture are clean and the type of thing you’d want to give out to somebody.”
He added, “We’ve been very successful at getting good donated furniture from a very generous community, and that’s been a difference-maker.”
Information from: The Messenger, https://www.messengernews.net
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