Reverend Jeffrey Bower of St. John’s Episcopal Church said he learned from school officials at nearby Wheeler Elementary that many children are sleeping on the floor or with parents at night.
Bower said he knew 80-percent of students were ‘food insecure,’ but had no idea about the other challenge at home.
“We have a feeding ministry and we’re already working to do that,” he said. “(Then) learning that children were actually sleeping on the floors blocks away from our front doors … we initiated a program a week later.”
The program, called “Project Sweet Dreams,” aims to provide mattresses to children in need – identified by the school. After three week, Bower said they’ve already distributed 22 mattresses with another 10 or 12 committed – with help from the Mattress Firm Foundation.
School officials said they already see a difference in the classroom.
“Just the other day i had a kid find me at the end of the day and said ‘Mrs. Anweiler, I just want to tell you I had a good night’s sleep,'” said home-school advsior Ashley Anweiler. “I was excited but sad at the same time … that it came to this and that for months he didn’t have a good night’s sleep and finally he did.”
Anweiler said she’s seen academics improve and behavior, too.
“Being able to address this fundamental need basic need for them – to give them a little bit of hope and hopefully to transform that academic performance in the days ahead – that’s really what its about,” said Bower.
Organizers said their goal is to provide 60 mattresses by December 23. They also plan to expand in 2015 and are looking for additional funding to include other schools like Indianapolis Public Schools.
To donate or for more information, contact St. John’s Episcopal Church, 5625 W 30th Street, Speedway, IN 46224. Donations by check should include ‘Project Sweet Dreams’ in the memo line.