Campus News

UK Extension Helps Community Come Together to Make Sure Kids Have Beds

Video courtesy of UK Ag Communications.

FRANKLIN, Ky. (April 5, 2019)  Children in Franklin will soon have a comfortable place to sleep thanks to efforts from their community.

Several organizations and groups in this south-central Kentucky town have worked for the past six months to build beds for local children in need.

During the Franklin-Simpson Middle School health fair in November, two boys told Christy Ramey they did not have beds. Knowing that one slept on a couch, while the other slept on the floor disturbed Ramey, the Simpson County family and consumer sciences extension agent and chair of the Get Healthy Simpson Coalition, which organizes the health fair.

“It bothered me a lot to the point of almost distress,” Ramey said. “When I was giving my report on the health fair to the coalition, I told their story and asked the coalition if they had ever heard of a build-a-bed program. Nobody had, but right away, five members of the coalition said, ‘Yes. We need to do this.’”

As the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service agent and other coalition members approached individuals and groups within the community, they found many people willing to give of their time, talent and money to build 20 beds. Several businesses including the Franklin Lowe’s and Trent Bedding in Bowling Green, Kentucky, offered materials and mattresses to the group at cost. The coalition quickly surpassed their initial fundraising goal of $4,000 to buy the building materials with generous donations coming from the Lion’s Club, Franklin Methodist Church, Franklin Church of Christ, private individuals and businesses.

Since the project began, nearly 100 individuals from the community have participated in the project in some way. The Lions Club, a local high school agriculture class and a Sunday school class from Franklin Community Church volunteered to build the beds.

 Dick Timmerman is one of the Lion’s Club volunteers who built 10 of the beds.

“When kids have to sleep on the couch or the floor or in a vehicle, I can’t even comprehend what that has to do to their minds,” he said. “When I heard about that, I said, ‘We need to fix that.’”

At Franklin-Simpson High School, students in Sam Evans’ agriculture construction class diligently worked, putting the final touches on headboards and slats so they could put together the five beds they are building.

“Every bit of this falls into my lesson plans and standards,” he said. The biggest thing is actually making it so it is consistent, so all of the beds are the same. If the beds are one-eighth or even one-sixteenth of an inch off, it can make a big difference. We want these beds to be sturdy for years to come.”

While Evans’ classes do other community service projects, this one has hit closer to home, as the students know this is benefiting other young people in their community.

“It’s a great feeling to be helping a kid in your community,” said Logan Ford, Franklin-Simpson High School junior. “It gives you a sense of pride. By doing something so simple, you are helping somebody in such a great way. It’s pretty amazing.”

The coalition worked with the Simpson County Head Start and local family resource center to identify 14 students who needed beds. They began delivering beds to local children this week. Not only will the children get the beds and mattresses, but they also will receive bedding donated by the local Walmart with pillowcases made by the Simpson County Extension Homemakers.

With the additional funds they raised, the Get Healthy Simpson Coalition has decided to make it an ongoing project so they always have a few beds available for emergencies.

“Extension was able to see a need in a community, and then the community was able to bring it all together and act on it,” Ramey said. “It’s just amazing.”

UK Cooperative Extension is part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Jointly with its land-grant partner, Kentucky State University, UK Cooperative Extension brings the university to the people in their local communities, addressing issues of importance to all Kentuckians.

Students building a bed in Simpson County. Photo by Katie Pratt.