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Florence ministry distributes 40 beds to children in Lake City area

December 16, 2018
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Volunteers with the Beds Ministry at Central United Methodist Church in Florence load mattresses onto a trailer Saturday morning in Lake City.

LAKE CITY, S.C. – Some children in Florence County School District Three will have a new bed just in time for Christmas. The Central United Methodist Church of Florence Beds Ministry distributed 40 beds Saturday morning in Lake City for children who did not have one of their own.

The children, who were identified by the school district, received a new bed from the church, in addition to new linens and pajamas.

Central United Methodist Church member Art Justice said the church’s beds ministry started in 2015 by solely helping children in Florence One Schools. This is the first year the ministry has helped Florence County School District Three.

“Hopefully we’ll keep on answering the need here,” Justice said. “I don’t think you can ever completely fill a need, but I know it’ll diminish some.”

Justice said lumber is donated to the church to make the beds. It is then cut, and the beds ministry hosts a build-a-bed day at the church where participants create several beds for children in need. They usually distribute beds twice a year, he said.

Information about the children who will receive the beds is gathered from the participating schools so that appropriate linen and bedding can be purchased or donated.

“Like, if a child’s favorite cartoon character is Spider-Man, we buy Spider-Man pajamas and sheets,” Justice said. “We put all of that together in a bag and we get the mattresses and distribute it as a whole thing.”

Because the beds ministry is a hands-on operation, Justice said, its only limitation is the number of beds volunteers can create. This year, St. Luke Lutheran Church in Florence partnered with Central United Methodist Church to build some of the beds that were distributed, plus collect linen and pajamas.

Kasey Feagin, Florence County School District Three’s senior director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said for 40 children to receive beds from the ministry is a very important thing.

Nakisha McKnight, an administrative assistant in District Three, worked behind the scenes on the beds project in Lake City. She said many of the children were thrilled to be able to receive a new bed.

“It’s the gift of giving, especially during the holidays,” McKnight said. “Some of the families were very appreciative because it’s Christmastime and they’re receiving it right before Christmas. Some kids may not be receiving Christmas gifts, and that’s (the bed) a gift for them.”

“Obviously it’s very important because these kids don’t have a bed of their own,” Feagin said. “So having a bed that they can sleep in and getting this for them is very important.”

Volunteers from the beds ministry and District Three pitched in Saturday morning at the district office to load beds and mattresses onto trucks and even deliver them to students’ homes.

Ra’Shaud Graham, a teacher at J. Paul Truluck Creative Arts and Science Magnet School, was one of several volunteers Saturday morning. He said he made at least five trips to homes on Saturday and delivered about 10 beds.

He said he could see it in the families’ faces that their spirits were uplifted by the gifts.

“It touches a place that a lot of things don’t. A lot of people give out coats or they may give out a scarf or backpack, but that doesn’t necessarily touch home like a bed,” Graham said. “So it’s one thing to go out and not have a bed, and it’s another thing to go out and not have a jacket. But when you actually have a bed and somebody’s blessing you like that, I think it makes people happy.”

Graham said he likes to “pay it forward” because there was a time when a lot of people in Florence County School District Three helped him and his family.

“We had a low time, and the same people from the school district now, kind of helped me out,” Graham said. “So I feel like it’s just my due diligence to give back to my community and help out anybody I can.”

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