Youth shelter receives 21 donated mattress sets

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Bedzzz Express and King Koil’s donation of 21 brand new mattresses and box springs to Family Connection is probably one of the largest item donations the organization has received at one time, said Family Connection Executive Director Susan Johnston.

“This is huge,” she said. “This impacts their overall health and will make such a difference in the lives of our children.”

The mattresses were placed on beds in Family Connection’s Residential Center for youth ages 12-17. Johnston said nine children were living at the center on Thursday, Oct. 13, but the number fluctuates on a daily basis.

The center, located in Alabaster, has 18 beds for children and three staff beds. Two staff members must be at the shelter at all times.

“Think about how much better you feel about everything after a good night’s rest – it sets the tone for the day and is vital to success,” Johnston said. “Our kids are already facing so many challenges so we do our best to provide them with hot meals and a comfortable living environment, and that incudes a comfortable bed.”

Johnston said the mattresses that the children were sleeping on were at least 15 years old.

“They’re going to be so excited when they get here from school,” she said.

Bedzzz Express Vice President David Riddle carries two mattresses into the Residential Center. (Reporter photo/Briana Harris)

Bedzzz Express Vice President David Riddle carries two mattresses into the Residential Center. (Reporter photo/Briana Harris)

David Riddle, vice president of Bedzzz Express, said the company partnered with mattress manufacturer King Koil to make the donation possible.

“Bedzzz Express likes to donate to causes that promote good family values,” Riddle said. “Our focus is helping at-risk youth and women.”

This isn’t the first time Bedzz Express, which operates a store at 2361 Pelham Parkway, has donated mattresses to a good cause. They’ve also made mattress donations to the Lovelady Center and Baptist Home Missions. The Bedzzz Express Mattress Warehouse is also located in Pelham.

“It’s a wonderful blessing to be able to do this,” Riddle said. “It’s our duty to our community to help out when we can.”

The Residential Center serves about 125 youth each year. Johnston said the goal is always for them to return home if at all possible. The center receives children through self-referrals and referrals from court and school systems.

“We need a lot of donations,” Johnston said. “Think about your child and we need all of that stuff times 18.”

She said food donations, like canned goods, fruit juice and snacks, are always needed.

Family Connection is a nonprofit child and family services agency providing services for Shelby County and the greater Birmingham metropolitan area. Through a variety of crisis prevention and intervention programs, Family Connection is dedicated to building positive futures for the community’s most vulnerable population, Johnston said.

Each year, Family Connection serves more than 10,000 children, teens and families through their residential shelter, school counseling, family support groups, day shelter and homeless outreach and education program.