Slumberland ramps up holiday bed donations in Janesville

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Neil Johnson
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

JANESVILLEShana Doane watched as her 6-year-old son, Robbie, tried to measure the size of his new twin bed using his “Cars” sleeping bag as a yardstick.

Robbie was proud of his sleeping bag, which is emblazoned with characters from his favorite cartoon film. But when he found out Monday morning that the bed, box spring and metal frame were all his—a special gift delivered to his family's home from Slumberland Furniture in Janesville—Robbie fell to the floor in a spontaneous show of surprise.

“I love it. I love the springs, the wood (box-spring frame). I love everything. I love this whole bed,” Robbie said.

The Janesville boy and his family were among 35 local recipients of “Homes for the Holidays," the franchise's annual bed donation for families in need.

Before Robbie's gift came Monday, Doane said Robbie had been sleeping on an old, too-small mattress on the floor of their apartment on Randall Avenue in Janesville.

Doane said she and her husband, David, just got married in October, and money is tight for them. The family had looked for a new bed for Robbie for “a long time,” but Doane said they haven't been able to afford the $250 or so some bed sets cost.  

Acts of Kindness, a Janesville nonprofit social service agency, called Doane to screen her family for Slumberland's mattress giveaway. She said the agency has helped her out with clothing before, but the call asking if she was still trying to find an affordable mattress for her son was unexpected.

“This is very exciting, especially when you don't have the money to buy something like this,” Doane said. “I didn't ever tell Robbie the bed was coming. I wanted it to be a surprise for Christmas. I didn't ever expect that it would be brand-new. They just said, 'We're delivering a bed.'”

Store owner Peggy Lipton said the holiday bed donation program has run for nine years in Janesville, and Monday's giveaway marks the most beds the store has ever donated.

Lipton said some “middle class” residents might think an improving economy means fewer people are in need in Janesville. She believes the resurgence still hasn't reached some of the families the program helps. This year, the store expanded its program to 35 beds—in some cases donating multiple mattresses to larger families who needed more than one bed.

Last year, Lipton said, Slumberland donated 30 beds, mostly to families with children.

“There's food assistance and rent assistance and other programs," Lipton said. "But sleep is so important for growing kids. That's one thing a lot of people might not realize. Not everybody can provide a bed for a child to get a good night's rest. I think it's important that we have this program for that reason.”

Slumberland runs the bed donations through local nonprofits that screen the families. Restrictions for the program are that families must be living in their own homes and must be present when the store's deliverers bring in the beds and set them up.

Lipton said the nonprofits she works with deserve credit for selecting and screening families who receive beds. In a lot of cases, those families could have children sleeping on the floor.

“Some families this year said they had four kids sleeping on the floor. It's a problem most of us in the comfy middle class don't ever get to see. Nobody sees it or maybe wants to see it,” Lipton said.

Doane said the gift from Slumberland “means a lot more than I can tell you.”

She tried to curb her son's excitement as he bragged about his new gift. He pinballed around the room, giving high fives and fist-bumps to everyone.

“I get a big bed. I definitely need a big bed because I'm a big kid,” Robbie said. “Do I really get to sleep on it tonight?”

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