Sincere Cooper clung tightly to an Adventure Bible and Cookie Monster teddy bear he picked from a batch of them last weekend as volunteers worked to set-up his new single bed.
The 7-year-old was one of seven relatives to get a bed as part of a new Greater Augusta Family YMCA initiative.
“It’s great,” Sincere said about the new bed Wednesday. “I don’t have to share a bed with my grandma anymore.”
The bed was one of 41 delivered to families within the Dogwood Terrace neighborhood as part of the local organization’s initiative to provide children of low-income families with a comfortable “place to dream.”
The initiative is slated to provide more than 100 beds during its two delivery days in November, with a goal of more than 500 beds in the coming months and beyond. A second delivery is scheduled for Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Dogwood Terrace , located at 2057 Old Savannah Road.
The beds, pillows and linens are purchased through donations from area businesses and residents and delivered to homes of under-resourced families.
Families within the Augusta Housing Authority will be the initial recipients via an application process, Greg Franciso of the agency said.
“We have thousands of people in public housing, or assisted housing, in the area and you can go in any of these homes for the most part and a bed for the kids could be a makeshift pallet, or an old tattered mattress that’s on the floor,” he said. “That’s reasonably typical and I think this weekend even some of the sheriff’s members who were out there helping got new insight on what living in poverty really is and the great need is out there.”
During the first day of delivery, volunteers consisting of deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, YMCA staff and some community members, worked to assemble and set up the beds. Also provided was a backpack filled with snacks, a bible and a teddy bear for a “sense of security” for the children, said Tammy Butler, director of Human Resource at the Family Y of Greater Augusta .
“I know as a child I had a teddy bear and it made me feel secure to have that teddy bear when I went to bed at night and having that teddy bear gave me a sense of security,” she said Thursday. “And that’s what I hope helps each child to know that that’s their bear and they can go to bed at night with that bear, and that’s their sense of security.”
For Cooper’s 10-year-old sister, Virginia, the gifts came as a surprise.
“I was at my best friend’s house when my grandma called for me and when I ran into the house I saw my bed and I jumped on it,” she said as she imitated her act inside their Dogwood Terrace home Wednesday.
Her grandmother, Debbie Davis, who takes care of the seven grandchildren, said the new initiative is “a blessing” to all. Prior to receiving the new beds, one single and three bunks, Davis said the children slept on old mattresses, most with a broken spring, that a few of them often shared.
“They’re glad to get in their beds and read their books and stuff,” she said. “It’s a blessing that they can sleep better and get a good rest before going to school, and focus like they’re suppose to.”
Danny McConnell, president and CEO of the Family YMCA of Greater Augusta, said he hopes to grow the initiative nationwide.
“A child that climbs into a bed for the first time in their life when they are 5, 6 , or 7-years old is remarkable. They just can’t believe that that bed is there and it’s their own bed,” he said. “It was a very touching (last) Saturday and our goal is to eliminate bedlessness, no such word, but we’re trying to turn it into bed fullness and try to see if we can make a dent throughout the CSRA with children that need a bed.”