In FD, beds are sought again

Bridging the Gap is having its yearly Home for the Holidays bed drive Friday and Saturday at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.

Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way is partnering with Fort Dodge Housing Agency and Slumberland Furniture to provide beds for children in the community who do not have them.

“Each year, Fort Dodge Housing Agency would do their Home for the Holidays program and Bridging the Gap would do a furniture drive as well, and last year we decided it would make a lot of sense if we just did it together,” Jess Martens, Bridging the Gap coordinator, said.

Bridging the Gap, right now, is short on furniture, Martens said.

“We have been out of beds for about three weeks now, and I currently have 30 people on my list,” she said. “Fort Dodge Housing has another 35 referrals for beds.”

The need in Fort Dodge is much greater this year, according to Martens.

“Bridging the Gap itself has seen an influx these last few weeks of referrals,” she said. “I’m not sure what is causing it, but there’s a huge need right now and we really need the community’s support to make it happen.”

She added, “We want to make sure every child has a bed to sleep in this Christmas.”

Martens said it is important to get kids off the floor and into a bed not just for their comfort, but for their future.

“It’s been proven that the best way to emerge from poverty is through education,” she said. “Kids who are in elementary school, if they don’t get a good night’s sleep, they’re probably not going to be able to pay as good of attention in school and learn as much as they could if they had a bed to sleep in. We really think that’s the first step in helping them get a good education, and emerge from that cycle of poverty they’re in.”

As program coordinator, Martens has seen children benefit from having a bed to sleep in.

“I’ve worked with so many families this last two years since we’ve had this program. We’ve now assisted just under 300 families. We’ve gotten 340 children off the floor,” she said. “Forty of those were infants that did not have cribs, that we were able to provide.”

The community is being asked to bring new or used beds, as well as bedding. Anyone who donates will receive a free car wash coupon from Fort Dodge Ford, Martens said.

“We are super excited to camp out in their show room again,” she said. “We did that a couple of years ago with a different drive, and they offered to let us do it again this year.”

The drop-off event will be held at Fort Dodge Ford on Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To donate a bed, contact Jess Martens at 573-3170, or email Bridging the Gap is located at the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance building, 24 N. Ninth St., Suite B.