St. John’s United Methodist Church is helping to tuck Fort Mill children into bed and give them a chance to dream.
On Saturday morning, children were giddy with excitement in the church parking lot amid stacks of wooden frames and mattresses. A girl called out to others to come feel the fuzzy purple hair on her stuffed Troll peeking out of a bag filled with bedding. The church was helping 12 families by donating 25 twin-sized bed frames and three air mattresses as part of the b = d ministry, beds equals dreams.
“One little boy hugged my husband and cried,” said Pat Fahner.
Her husband, Mark Fahner, is head of the mission project, which is an extension of Harrison UMC in Pineville, N.C., where more than 130 beds have been distributed.
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“They were looking for a church to support the Fort Mill community,” he said. “It was the first time we did this for children who don’t have beds or have to sleep with their parents.”
The 600-member congregations pitched in, from per-kindergarteners writing messages to the women making fleece blankets and everyone donating sheet sets, pillows, blankets, pajamas and a stuffed toy.
“I think it’s probably the best project our church has done in my three years to reach out to the community,” said the Rev. Karen Radcliffe, pastor of St. John UMC. “Everyone has been involved.”
The church teamed up with Fort Mill School District to identify families in need from kindergarten to high school.
“It’s definitely going to help them in the long run to do better in school,” said Meghan Gray, homeless and foster liaison for the school district. “They are all very grateful.”
Gray said one mother had been pushing two crib mattresses together for her twin first-graders to sleep on.
“When a child can get a good night’s sleep that helps the entire community,” Radcliffe said. “They function better in school and can become better citizens.”
The church tracked donations online, and purchased bedding and toys based on a child’s interest.
“If a child likes Hello Kitty, we got Hello Kitty things for the child,” Mark Fahner said.
The church set a mission budget of $2,000, plus donations, to purchase the bed frames and mattresses. The church members built the 25 wooden frames in the fall in about four hours with lumber from Tucker Lumber in Pageland.
“They go together like Lincoln logs,” said Mark Fahner. “They’re numbered and slide together.”
The families were asked to give $10 for the bed, but received a $10 gift card back in an information pack. They also delivered the beds to families who didn’t have a large enough vehicle or couldn’t borrow one for pickup.
Church members, like Joy Honeycutt, are looking forward to doing it again.
“We’ve had a lot of fun putting it together, and seeing the kid’s smile is priceless,” she said. “Good food isn’t all you need. A good night’s rest goes a long way.”
Catherine Muccigrosso: 803-329-4069