Every night, tired children climb into their beds and reenergize for the coming day. But not all of them. Thousands of children in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will lie on a sofa, or on a bed sheet that separates their bodies from the hard floor.
This was brought to Rev. S.M. Wright II’s attention in 2009 while going door-to-door bringing Christmas gifts to residents in south Dallas neighborhoods.
“I was under the impression that everybody had a bed. That was my impression in the community, but it was not the case,” said Wright, of People’s Missionary Baptist Church. “I asked where the children were sleeping, and they were sleeping on the floor in the corner.”
In 2010, the S.M. Wright Foundation established Beds for Kids to provide disadvantaged children in North Texas the comfort of a new bed and the benefits of sound sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as ADHD, and cognitive problems that impact [children’s] ability to learn in school.”
Beds for Kids manager Sussette Cole said that they came up with the theme “A good night’s rest brings out the best” because that has been the result of this initiative.
“I went back to a letter from when [a child] didn’t have a bed, and you could even see the difference in his handwriting,” Cole said. “His mother has told us that he’s been doing so well in school.”
What started with 300 beds for children in the south Dallas community has grown to 6,800 distributed beds for school-aged children in Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties. Cole said there are more than 4,000 children on the waitlist for a bed set, and the organization has received calls from as far as Atlanta for more beds.
Donations can be made online at the foundation’s website. Donors can sponsor a new twin bed set for $165 or a full bed set for $200. The foundation will also accept non-monetary donations, such as bed sheets and even canned goods, all in support of providing youth with adequate sleep.
Qualifying families must complete an application, show proof of income and residency, provide a valid birth certificate for each child, and meet Texas Commodity Assistance Program income requirements. Once the application is processed, a representative from the foundation visits the residence to verify the need for a bed. Upon approval, the family can pick up the bed from the foundation’s warehouse.
“Our goal is to bring as many families as we can from insufficiency to the point where they can depend on themselves,” said Kenneth Jackson, operations manager for the foundation. “Even the people that we have helped in this program are now the ones that volunteer with us. We want to bring others up to where they can help others as well.”
Beds for Kids is a branch of the S.M. Wright Foundation’s longstanding mission to provide less fortunate families with basic necessities, as well as economic empowerment.
The S.M. Wright Foundation’s almost 18 years of service to the needy has earned the support of prominent businesspeople in North Texas, including Allie Beth Allman. Beds for Kids has built a reputation as well, and is now backed by The Salvation Army and Red Cross.
Not to mention the support and gratitude of the young people who have benefited from the partnerships and donations, many from neighborhoods in South Dallas. Thank you letters from the children who receive the beds serve as a reminder of the organization’s mission and the impact it makes.
A 14-year-old girl, the eldest of five in her family, wrote that the donation helped her mother financially. One young boy shared that he looked forward to no longer sharing one bed with his two brothers.
“I have just seen a huge need in the community, and then the huge joy for a lot of kids to receive beds,” Wright said. “I did not know it would be this large. We just worked so hard, and we keep working every year and keep finessing the program.”