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Needy Kansas City children receive beds PDF Print E-mail

 

By Shari Friedel

Tribune Staff

 

Due to the efforts of Monica (McClenahan) Starr of Kansas City, many needy children in the Kansas City area will be “nestled all snug in their beds” this winter, possibly for the first time in their lives.

To most people, a bed is a basic necessity largely taken for granted. Starr discovered, however, that one in 42 children in Kansas City is without one, or is sharing a bed with several siblings.

This translates to over 5,000 of the city’s children unable to enjoy the simple pleasure of a good night’s sleep in their own comfortable bed.

Starr, the daughter of Garvin and Connie McClenahan of Grant, graduated from Grant High School in 1992. She opened a floral shop in Lincoln, and later purchased and ran a restaurant before settling in Kansas City with her husband Bart, who she married in 2005.

She recently decided to become a stay-at-home mom to her two children, Iris, two, and Graham, nine months.

Starr became aware of the overwhelming need of beds for children through her involvement in CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) a non-profit network of volunteers who serve as voices for abused and neglected children.

Researching options, she found that Kansas City has organizations supplying food, housing, medical care and clothing for those in need, but no resources for supplying beds.

Starr shared her concerns with friends Ryann Wilds and Juana Meyer, and together they decided to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

They had no clue when they put their idea into action just two months ago, how the project would snowball.

The outreach began with an email plea to acquaintances requesting that their used beds taking up space in the basement or garage be donated to a child in need.

The response, Starr said, was overwhelming.

The friends have since created a non-profit organization, Sleepyhead Beds, with the simple premise of pairing Kansas City children needing a bed with people who have beds to discard. The solution is mutually beneficial—the child receives a needed bed, and the homeowner has a bed removed at no charge, freeing space in basements, garages and landfills.

With the initial goal of locating 500 beds in a year’s time, the group has already distributed well over 100, personally making the deliveries in their own or friends’ vehicles. They have since purchased a trailer.

Two Kansas City businesses have jumped on board and have donated a percentage of their proceeds during special promotions to benefit Sleepyhead Beds.

National attention on Fox News one night in November increased awareness and resulted in a new surge of donations.

One of the biggest surprises, Starr said, is the gratitude of the people donating beds, thrilled not to have to put forth the effort and expense of hauling it away themselves, in addition to the satisfaction they receive from helping a child in need.

The response from children receiving the beds has been equally rewarding. Some of them get so excited, Starr said, you would think they were just presented with a brand new Xbox!

Starr pointed out that there are many circumstances creating a need for beds: some families are fleeing a violent domestic situation, some have experienced damage to their homes, other families move frequently and don’t have the means to transport beds. As the organization’s website states: “If you’re lucky, it’s hard to imagine.”

Facebook posts relate heartwarming success stories:

“We had some great drop-offs last weekend. One kiddo saw us pull up and yelled “time out!” to his friends so he could run over and claim his bed. He was jumping up and down with excitement. It was so cool!”

“The other day we called to schedule a bed delivery for a pregnant teenage girl, and she burst into tears when she answered the phone. Her doctor had just put her on bed rest and she had no idea what she was going to do.”

And, “A mother called last week to thank us. She said her children had the best sleep they’d had in a long time, and that school had been a whole new ball game.”

The organization accepts beds in good condition, as well as bedding, and each bed they receive goes through a sanitation process before being given to a child.

For more information or to donate, visit the organization’s website at www.sleepyheadbeds.org.