Around 50 volunteers gathered to build 54 beds for elementary school students in four Greater Clark County Schools on Saturday.
The beds will go to children who have no bed of their own — such as the child who shares a bed with their grandmother, or the 6-year-old girl still sleeping in an adjustable crib.
An 11-year-old boy has been sleeping on a mattress in such bad condition that the springs poke through, cutting him as he sleeps. And in one household, six children sleep on a sofa and loveseat while an adult sleeps on an old cot.
The Build-A-Bed project was a joint effort by Metro United Way, GCCS and Communities in Schools of Clark County.
“This is our first time doing it,” said Pam Ottersbach, regional director for Southern Indiana Metro United Way. “We definitely plan to do it again.”
Metro United Way serves Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties in Indiana, as well as several counties in Kentucky. “We’re feeling it out and seeing how it works,” Ottersbach said. “What’s the full need? If every kid got a bed that didn’t have one, what would that number be?”
“We know there is more need just in Greater Clark,” said GCCS superintendent Dr. Andrew Melin. More than half of Greater Clark students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
Studies have proven a good night’s sleep is vital to a child’s ability to pay attention and learn. Lack of sleep can lead to aggressive behavior, shortened attention span, and disruptions in cognitive function.
Volunteers from Amazon, Steel Dynamics, Prosser Career Education Center and the community gathered at the Mark Fetter Learning Center – the former Clark County Auto Auction – in Jeffersonville to build the beds.
Under the direction of Prosser building trade instructor Ron Zimmer, volunteers built simple bed frames from lumber prepared by Zimmer and his students. The beds were then partially disassembled and loaded onto trailers for delivery to Spring Hill, Parkwood, Northaven and Bridgepoint Elementaries on Monday.
Accompanying each bed frame was a tool kit so the families can easily reassemble it, and a mattress. Pillows, pillowcases, blankets and sheets, loaded in laundry bags, were also included.
Bowles Mattress Co. donated the mattresses while Amazon and Target donated sheets and pillows. Blankets were hand-made by volunteers with Metro United Way’s LINC program.
Home Depot donated supplies, too, while Steel Dynamics and Community Foundation of Southern Indiana provided financial support.
Papa John’s and Adrienne’s Bakery donated food for the volunteers during the daylong event.
“What a tremendous partnership. I can’t thank our partners enough,” Melin said. “We care about all of our families and we want our students to get a good night’s sleep.”