NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Where will you be laying your head tonight when you go to sleep? For most, the answer is simple — on my pillow in my bed. However, that’s not the case for hundreds of thousand Americans who are experiencing homelessness or even more if you consider those who don’t have enough money to afford a bed.
Those who are the most vulnerable in this real-life scenario are children.
“That’s the mind-blowing part is that nobody talks about childhood bedlessness,” said Anna Marshall with the nonprofit organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP). “Nobody even knows that exists.”
Studies surrounding childhood bedlessness are few and far between, too. Marshall said SHP has done its own research of the national bed crisis, finding about 3% of American children don’t have their own beds.
“We do estimate it’s over 3 million children in the United States that do not have beds at their own,” said Marshall.
There are, however, plenty of studies about sleep.
According to studies from Harvard University, Auburn University, and the Better Sleep Council, a poor night of sleep can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression, and stunted growth. But, a good night of sleep can lead to a healthier immune system and better physical and emotional health.
SHP has also made efforts to research how having a bed impacts children and their families.
“We’ve recently reached out to a bunch of bed recipients to give them a survey so that we could get this kind of information back. We had so many parents comment on how much their child’s attitude improved, their studies in school improved, their ability to handle problems and to show joy improved- It’s just through the roof,” she explained.
SHP’s core mission is to build and deliver fully furnished beds to children in need between ages 3 to 17.
So far, in the last ten years, the organization has delivered 100,000 beds to kids who did not have a bed of their own.
“Anywhere that a kid needs a bed, we’re going to go,” Marshall said.
The nonprofit doesn’t just serve single-family homes. Marshall said they work with disaster relief efforts, foster homes, and organizations like the Department of Children Services.
“We have gotten calls in the middle of the night from agencies saying, ‘hey, we’ve got this family that the only thing that they need in order to keep their kids at home with them is a safe place for them to sleep.'”
It costs about $250 to build and deliver one fully-furnished bed and $500 for a bunk bed.
It’s a small price when you consider the peace and comfort the kids receive.
“They don’t have to worry about where they get to lay their head that night. It’s amazing,” said Marshall.
The SHP Nashville chapter is expanding and has a need for more community involvement, from staffing to volunteers to donations.
“When people from Nashville donate, they can choose Nashville as their donation spot.” Marshall continued, “To know that your dollars and your volunteer hours are helping kids right there in your own community, that’s what we’re after.”
If you’d like to learn more about SHP and how to get involved, then click on this link.
If you know of someone who is in need of a bed, then they can apply for one at this link.