Bed ministry helps Monroe County children sleep comfortably

Jonathan Chesman, left, and John Chesman load a new mattress into John's SUV.  The father and son are volunteers for the Now I Lay Me Down bed ministry, a program launched by the First Presbyterian Church.

This month, 30 fewer children are sleeping on the floor thanks to the Now I Lay Me Down bed ministry. Launched by the First Presbyterian Church on Washington Street, 150 new beds were purchased and distributed this year to needy children in Monroe County.

Proceeds from the annual Bed Race to Aid Children fundraiser along with donations from the church and community provide the funding to purchase beds for children ages 17 and younger. Each child also receives a pillow, sheets, blanket, stuffed animal and book. The estimated cost per bed set is approximately $250. The ministry is run by volunteers and all of the money donated goes to beds for children.

Each year, the bed race raises close to $30,000 and part of the program’s success stems from community support. The Bedford Township Lions Club has been a major sponsor over the years and has donated more than $50,000 and in 2019 a winter event was added.

“Dale Zorn came to us with the idea to have a sled race during the Christmas in Ida event,” Kim Hooper said. “The past three years, we’ve had the Sled Race to Aid Children.”

Now I Lay Me Down bed ministry volunteers John Chesman, Karen Winchell and Jonathan Chesman tie a bag filled with bedding, a stuffed animal and book for a child who will receive a new bed.

Hooper, a Monroe resident and FPC member, has been with the program since its inception.

“It all started with a single mom coming to our church wondering if there was any money to buy her child a bed,” he said. “This month has been a very heavy month. Our goal was to attempt to get everyone on our waiting list. We wanted to see that each child would have a bed by Christmas Eve. We use Sacks, a local furniture store, and it even got to a point that they were out of twin beds. They were looking to find more so that we could get as many beds as we could.”

Hooper said the ministry can be considered an education and health program.

First Presbyterian Church members John Chesman, left, and Karen Winchell volunteer their time to help with the Now I Lay Me Down bed ministry.

“If a child has their own bed, they rest more,” he said. “A few years back, we had a little girl that contracted lead poisoning. They couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until they documented that the floor that the child had been sleeping on had been painted with lead paint that was peeling. While sleeping on the floor, the little girl was inhaling the lead paint.”

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