Storytellers speak of children all snug in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, but for little girls like Elizabeth who had no bed and slept on a mattress laid on the floor such things were hard to imagine.
This Christmas, perhaps it will be so.
The Department of Human Services referred Elizabeth's parents to the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan, which not only gave her a bed but a pretty pink comforter.
"The family has had a tough go of it," said Rob Boyle, executive director of the Furniture Bank, a charitable organization that collects new and gently used furniture and appliances before they are discarded and distributes them to families and individuals in crisis, without charge. Recipients are referred to the Furniture Bank through recognized charitable and government agencies. After Elizabeth's dad lost his job the family became homeless. For three years, they did what they could to survive. Now, through the support of their church and other assistance, Elizabeth and her family are living in a modest but well-kept home, and her dad has been able to secure work through a variety of jobs.
"But while the (family) were establishing a stable home for themselves there was still one problem -- Elizabeth or 'Bethy' as she's called was sleeping on an old worn mattress that they came across," Boyle said. "Without the means to afford a box spring, (Bethy's parents) placed boards underneath the mattress to provide as much support as possible."
Even still, the couch was better.
"There's nothing more compelling than a child who has to sleep on a couch or the floor. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep in children leads to numerous problems. How can a child be prepared to take a test if the night before they were sleeping on the floor? That's really at the core of what we do here."
This year alone, the Furniture Bank hopes to provide 3,000 families in Oakland and southeastern Macomb Counties with more than 12,000 individual items of furniture and appliances. Many of the gently used items available to families in need, through its shop in Pontiac are donated. "You can drop items off or we'll pick them up for free," said Boyle. "We have a 26-foot truck."
Other furnishings offered by the group are purchased through fundraisers. A recent event at Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle in Royal Oak raised more than $19,000 to help the group's mission to furnish hope to families in need.
"My bed is so comfortable," said Bethy, who has decorated it with stuffed animals, given to her by friends, and the pretty princess comforter set donated to her by a caring individual. Bethy's dreams this Christmas Eve are likely to involve castles and a knight in shining armor.
"I prayed and miracles started happening," said Bethy's mom.
For further information on what items are needed visit Furniture Bank Wish List
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Last year, the Furniture Bank helped more than 2,000 children under the age of five and 6,000 young people under the age of 18, by furnishing them everything from cribs and twin beds to refrigerators, sofas and dining room sets.
These gifts were made possible through donations and fundraisers such as the, "Women's Accessory Exchange," being held on Jan. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Amore Fashion in Ferndale.
Swap out your 'gently used' accessories including shoes, purses, scarves and jewelry in a fun boutique atmosphere, while enjoying drinks and hors d'oeuvres and networking with women executives, business owners and devotees of fine fashion. Each item donated gets you a voucher, for another item of your choice.
The $60 tickets for Furniture Bank Women's Accessory Exchange may be purchased by calling (248) 332-1300 or visiting furniture-bank.org. The Furniture Bank is located at 333 N. Perry St., in Pontiac. Amore Fashion is at 224 West Nine Mile Road, Ferndale.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Don’t say that you want to give, but go ahead and give! You’ll never catch up with a mere hope – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe