MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of kids in the Twin Cities go to bed each night without an actual bed to sleep on.
A good night’s sleep goes hand-in-hand with student learning, which is why a Twin Cities man started a nonprofit dedicated to making sure kids have a place to rest their head at night.
It’s called My Very Own Bed, and you can help Michael Allen AccomplishMN.
Allen learned the importance of giving back early in life. It’s stayed with him throughout his nonprofit work.
“Throughout that time I’ve seen a great need for children without beds, kids sleeping on the floor,” Allen said.
And so when his father — the man who instilled values in him — died of a sudden heart attack in 2014, he wanted to do something in his honor.
“Those values, that integrity he taught me, I wanted to carry on kind of that legacy,” Allen said.
The result was the creation of My Very Own Bed. Allen packs up a rented U-Haul each week to deliver beds and “Dream Kits.”
The nonprofit works off referrals for families that have recently transitioned out of homelessness. They may have a roof over their heads, but no furniture.
Allen delivered 14 beds the first year. In 2015, he delivered 120. Last year, the number grew to 152 beds.
[graphiq id=”2jd1IDqRpSl” title=”Homelessness Over Time in Minnesota” width=”600″ height=”493″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/2jd1IDqRpSl” ]
He wants to give kids every chance to succeed in life and school.
“I really feel strongly that it impacts children in school and getting a good night’s sleep in being productive,” he said. “A good night’s sleep makes productive children.”
Project REACH works with 2,000 students a year in St. Paul Public Schools to promote stability and academic success of children who are homeless or in temporary housing.
“Children are experiencing trauma and they bring that with them to their learning experience,” said social worker Beth O’Keefe. “It’s really, really hard to concentrate on your studies when you are experiencing this kind of situation going on.”
She calls My Very Own Bed a godsend for recipients.
“Having a good night’s sleep can be the difference between Jekyll and Hyde,” she said. “They come in with a rested brain and they can again approach their learning in a way that’s going to consolidate memory and be able to take off.”
Allen and a group of volunteers recently delivered four beds to a home in St. Paul. Ceil Woodley’s family had been sleeping in their car. Once they moved into the home, the kids slept on the floor or on air mattresses.
“Now I have somewhere else to sleep,” said Woodley’s 7-year-old granddaughter.
Woodley is grateful for the gift.
“It will help them sleep better at night,” she said. “I very, very appreciate this for my family. I’m very happy and excited.”
You can help Allen in his mission.
“That’s the great rewarding feeling, especially driving away, it’s kind of like this is why I started this,” Allen said.
His goal is to deliver 300 beds this year. Your gift of $100 provides a twin bed to a child in need.
Twenty-five dollars covers new sheets and a pillow. Allen is also looking for volunteers.