“We are looking to get more people involved via donations,” said Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy Mitch Cawrse, the school resource officer for both districts.
Individuals, families or businesses can make donations. For more information, call Cawrse at 419-663-2828 ext. 1617 and leave a voicemail. Checks should be payable to “South Central FFA.”
“If you call, you’re getting one,” Cawrse said. “We can put the names inside the beds if they (the donors) want to be recognized and have their names involved in the project, so the kids can see that someone cares about them and is willing to put forth the money to support it.”
This is the second drive of donating fully-furnished beds to Huron County children who don’t have one. South Central and New London FFA students made 25 bed frames, most of which were delivered Dec. 12.
“We did 25 beds in one school day,” South Central FFA adviser Sarah Lucha said.
The recipients received a bed frame, inner-spring mattress, comforter set and pillows.
“We have to put a smooth piece of plywood down on the bottom so the mattress doesn’t sink through … and the plywood acts as the box spring,” Cawrse said.
The New London FFA adviser is Megan Riley.
“She was a student-teacher of mine back in the day … and we work really well together,” Lucha said.
Cawrse approached the South Central FFA adviser about his idea for the Bed Battalion.
“I told him, ‘I’m in — on one condition: We make at least 10 beds by Dec. 31. Otherwise, I’m not doing it. We need to get the ball rolling,’” Lucha said.
Cawrse was inspired by a similar project in Columbus by the church of his wife’s family.
“You go into houses and you see five kids in one house and you see two beds in the entire house. They’re sleeping on couches or they’re sleeping with their parents,” the deputy said. “I know how it is when my kids sleep with me; I don’t get awesome sleep when they come into my bed. I would not want that every day.
“I could never imagine not having a bed; my whole life I grew up with a bed,” he added. “I took it for granted, I guess, but there are so many people who don’t have them — kids especially (who) don’t have them.”
The Bed Battalion fulfills one of the FFA missions — living to serve.
“And we love to do community service projects,” Lucha said. “Personally, I like seeing the fact these kids are excited to help out others.”
The South Central FFA adviser also has witnessed her students form bonds and friendships with New London teenagers “that they might not get if they just met each other in passing.”
“One of the things that we try to promote through our FFA is to become friends with others and so being able to have (Riley’s) students come and work with us is phenomenal. … These kids get to meet other students (and) they become friends with them,” Lucha said.
As the school resource officer at South Central and New London, Cawrse said students have approached him and asked “when are we doing beds again.”
“We are going to build them again March 4,” the deputy added.
Flyers about the Bed Battalion project have been posted at the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services, 185 Shady Lane Drive.
“That’s probably where a majority of our calls have come from, from people going to JFS and seeing it hanging up there,” Cawrse said.
The deputy talked about the responses when he, Deputy Frank Gleason and Brad Withrow, of Norwalk, delivered the beds during the school day.
“Mostly it was parents (who were) home; they were super grateful,” Cawrse said. “We did get to see a couple of the kids who were home and they were just so excited. … As soon as we (had) the beds up, they were laying in them, jumping up and down on them.”
South Central students learned about a teacher who knows what it was like to not sleep in her own bed as a child.
“One of our teachers in the school district approached us and said, ‘This is great you’re doing this because I grew up without a bed. When that teacher informed those kids, they were excited that they’re helping out someone who could be a teacher (or) who is going to make a difference that they might not know. For them, it’s trying to make a difference in our community,” Lucha said.