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Where will you sleep tonight?
Chances are, you’ll sleep in the same comfortable bed you slept in last night?
We know there are far too many homeless people in our community that won’t get a comfortable night’s sleep in a bed tonight. We know this, because we drive by them every day on the streets, and see them huddled in a cardboard box or crouched in a grocery cart.
However, there’s another group of people without a decent bed, a group not as visible.
They are children.
I’m not talking homeless children, but children who have to share a bed with one or two siblings. Children who have a bed, but it’s broken down and smelly. Children who have no bed and sleep on a couch or love seat.
We know the importance of a good diet and a good night’s sleep for children, and the impact those things have on their ability to learn and grow.
While all of us can donate food and some money to the less fortunate, not all of us can donate a bed.
Wanda Bowman can.
As the owner/operator of Ashley Homestore, Bowman has learned of the plight of many children in our community.
So, a dozen years or so ago, Bowman modified her annual “All I Want for Christmas” project, which supplied rooms of furniture to a handful of needy families in December. She grew to realize the dire need for beds for children in the Las Cruces area. Bowman adopted Ashley’s “Hope to Dream” program, where she can purchase youth beds for children and, in turn, donate them throughout the year.
Last week, Bowman donated more than 20 beds to children under 12 in our community. That puts the total over 100 for the year.
Every year, Bowman reads the letters from families requesting help for a bed. And every year, Bowman is struck anew at the dire situations right here in Las Cruces.
“Your heart just goes out,” Bowman said. “The requests are overwhelming.”
One family was able to use Covid stimulus money to buy a bed for their daughter, but couldn’t afford a new bed for their son.
Another family wrote of two small boys forced to sleep together in a small twin bed, which the younger one regularly wets. The family hoped for a bed for the older one, so he could stay dry.
“We had a family who lost their home and all their furniture in the La Union flood,” Bowman said.
If you can think of a situation causing a family to need a bed for a child, Bowman’s probably seen it.
She’s also seen plenty of situations you couldn’t imagine.
“These children, less than 12 years old, they didn’t choose to be without a bed,” Bowman said.
We know how excited children can get over a new toy, a new bicycle or a favorite meal. For most children, though, a new bed is a humdrum thing. For these children, a new bed almost means a new life.
Until you’ve slept on a broken bed, a lumpy couch, or shared a bed with a couple of siblings, you can’t realize the importance of having your own bed. Your own place to sleep and, just maybe, the chance to actually get a good night’s sleep, peaceful enough to foster a happy dream.