At a time when homelessness across Arizona and the nation continues to rise, scores of displaced East Valley teens now have new beds to call their own.
Ashley Furniture HomeStore’s Hope to Dream Program — the official charity for the company — last week donated 200 twin mattresses to Mesa-based Save the Family Foundation of Arizona.
The donation, which included frames, sheet sets and pillows, is for children recently incorporated into the foundation’s housing and supportive services programs.
“We just want to give a huge, heartfelt thanks to Ashley Furniture HomeStore for thinking of the Save the Family Foundation,” said foundation Executive Officer Jacki Taylor. “And for caring for the wellbeing of our children.”
According to the Maricopa Association of Governments, 6,614 people were counted experiencing homelessness on the night of Jan. 21 — which is 316 more than during last year’s count.
Unsheltered homelessness in Arizona has increased for the sixth straight year in a row.
The Hope to Dream program provides beds to children in need in communities across the country. With every mattress sold at Ashley HomeStore, the company donates a portion of the sales to the program.
Children are then selected each month to receive a bed set.
Hope to Dream spokeswoman Lauren Taylor told the East Valley Tribune that the program picked Save the Family because its values align with the charity’s mission.
“Our goal is to give every child a bed — so our partnership with them [the Foundation] is great because they already have the families in need,” she said, adding:
“A lot of people don’t realize how many families are out there without beds and how much it affects the child to grow up not having a place for them to sleep and that they can go back to at the end of the day. When a child is able to wake up feeling good, they are able to do better in life.”
The Save the Family Foundation of Arizona operates hundreds of housing units throughout the East Valley, according to its website, and provides rehousing, transitional housing and shelter for homeless families.
On top of housing services, Save the Family offers financial literacy education, career development support, budgeting workshops, parenting classes and self-esteem coaching.
“We serve families throughout the Valley,” said Jacki. “Our mission is to help families address poverty, overcome homelessness and achieve self sufficiency.”
Nearly 55 percent of the organization’s clients are children.
Bed donations are always appreciated, explained the chief executive officer, because of the mushrooming bed bug epidemic.
“One of the challenges for every nonprofit is providing appropriate beds for the families to sleep on,” Jacki said. “Because of the high incidences now of bed bugs, we’re no longer able to take used beds, mattresses or pillows.”
“It’s really a challenge for us all,” she continued. “In some cases, we can provide them with a high-quality blow up mattress, but that’s nothing like having a frame and real mattress.”
The Arizona Department of Agriculture website says bed bugs generally require extermination and can hide in tufts, seams and mattress folds; inside box springs; between bed covers, linens, pillowcases and pillowcase covers; in bed frame seams; underneath bed frame legs; behind headboards; and in pet bedding.
The foundation is in need of donations of all kinds.
“We take donations year-round,” said Jackie. “We always are in need of hygiene, cleaning supplies and clothing to help equip our families.”