Jasper First UMC Invests in the Young with Beds4Kids ministry
In the last 10 months, First UMC, Jasper members have delivered 20 beds to children who didn’t have their own in nearby houses, apartments and trailers.
To think that children would not have a bed to sleep in at night is almost unimaginable to most of us, yet the Jasper First UMC members are discovering incredible needs of this nature throughout their community. In less than a year, the church has responded to the requests from the Head Start program and court appointed special advocate volunteers that work in the Child Protective Services system.
The Back Story
About two years ago, leaders in the church heard about children in the Kansas City area not having suitable beds. Rev. Fred Willis says, “I mentioned it in a sermon and had someone respond with well, at least that does not happen in Jasper, and I began to wonder.” Fred spoke with a member, Tom Talbot, who was a probation officer in the area for years and discovered even he was doubtful of how much of a problem this really would be. However, as Tom talked to counselors at the schools, agencies, and others, he found that there was a need. Adds Fred, “This was a hidden need, one that often pride can keep hidden behind a veil. Tom spoke to our congregation about it, we educated each other on a problem no one knew we had, and we raised all the money we needed. Then we raised more. Now we have begun, once again, to raise even more... because we might be able to give one child a bed, but there is another one out there who needs one, too.”
“In the early days of this ministry, we wondered if we would ever get referrals,” says Rev. Fred Willis. “We have since delivered 20 sets of mattresses, frames, sheets, pillows and blankets!”
The Power of Partnerships
The church is partnering with the Royal Blue Service team to provide a sack of groceries for each family receiving a bed. Additionally, the local furniture store is very involved. Notes Fred, “I still remember the floor manager of Jimmy Aud & Sons saying he found it hard to believe that there were children in Jasper with no beds, and asking how we would ever find people like that -- which is everyone’s response to this unique need in the community.”
By getting a good night’s sleep, these children are better rested, which impacts their learning and self image. “And,” adds Fred, “we can take one thing off the parents’ list of worries and problems. Why would we not do this, in the name of Christ? It is gratifying to know we all share the common goal that every child in our community should be able to say, ‘I will lie down and sleep in peace,’ per Ps 4:9.”
He is thankful for a wonderful team of volunteers who get together to interview candidates. One of Jasper FUMC’s S-Teams (service teams) has adopted this ministry, and are going to hand-make winter blankets so that the Beds4Kids team can go back out and check up on all of their clients, building a relationship and giving them a Christmas gift and inviting them to special kid friendly events during the year. “We want to meet needs and bridge these families back to the local church,” shares Fred.