Love Columbia’s furniture and home goods resale store, The Love Seat, is filled with couches, dining room tables and dishware.
The one thing it often does not have is beds, especially for children.
“We never get enough donated twin beds for kids, and it breaks my heart kids are sleeping on the floor,” said Jane Williams, Love Columbia co-founder. “Every kid needs their own safe space. They need a bed for just good sleep, doing their school work.”
Thanks to a partnership of Love Columbia, the Veterans United Foundation and Ashley Furniture’s Hope To Dream program, 100 beds were donated Friday night in an event at Faurot Field to Columbia children who do not have adequate bedding in their homes.
The event was the first of its kind for the community.
Along with activities and concessions on the concourse level of the stadium, families watched the movie “Little Giants” from the beds on the field.
Hope to Dream donated twin mattresses, bed frames, bedding and pillows to children ages 3 to 16. Parents and organizers of the special donation event Friday already knew about the donation. The people who didn’t were the children who received the beds.
It took a minute for the news to sink in for Lariah Jones.
Even after the giveaway was announced, it took her mom, LaRhonda Jones, telling her the bed they were standing next to what hers for the reality to hit home. Lariah Jones stood for a few moments in stunned silence.
LaRhonda Jones also cares at home for a niece and nephew, who also received beds. All children who received a bed donation will have them delivered within two weeks.
The donation was the brainchild of Erika Pryor, manager at Veterans United Foundation.
“The seed was planted for this through early conversations and sentiments Williams and other employees of Love Columbia expressed,” Pryor said, adding the hope was to have this event in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it until Friday.
The demand for beds is always there, which led Pryor to finding Hope to Dream.
“We connected with them to see if there would be a possibility to partner up with them to make it as big and special as we could, but alleviate costs for all parties involved,” she said.
Love Columbia facilitated which families would receive beds, identifying children who either didn’t have beds or whose beds were in poor condition.
A connection was made with the Dream Builders Foundation to welcome former University of Missouri and current Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton to the event for photos and a meet-and-greet with children and families.
The timing of the event was special, Pryor said, at the start of the school year.
“It is ensuring these kids get a good night’s sleep and making sure they feel refreshed and ready and prepared for (class),” she said.
Columbia has a special place in Bolton’s heart, and he wanted to give back to the city, he said.
“I was one of those kids who had family members without beds,” Bolton said. “It’s a huge thing that they asked me to come here. I want to give a shout out to Ashley Furniture’s Hope to Dream and Veterans United for having me out.”