Matt 4 Kids making a difference for underprivileged children in Alberta
RED DEER, Alberta (05 September 2012) - For the past eight years, Mattress Mattress has working to help ensure underprivileged children living in this province have a comfortable mattress to sleep on, whether it's in their home or at summer camp.
Lori Fecho, vice president of the 16-unit sleep specialist (including two stores in Kelowna, British Columbia), said the Matts 4 Kids program was started in 2004 when shelters and other support groups stopped accepting used mattresses because of bedbug infestations and other hygiene concerns.
"Each year, we've donated as many as 200 brand new, twin-size mattresses to various organizations and charities for use by children under 18 years of age," she explains, adding, "Some requests are large - entire camps or shelters being re-done and some requests are small - for a family with one, two or three children."
Requests must come from a not-for-profit or registered charitable organization as they are often the best equipped to screen families and clients to find those in real need, Fecho said. "To date, we've never refused a legitimate request that meets our criteria."
In addition to her regular duties as the company's vice president, Fecho acts as program co-ordinator, which was the brainchild of Eric Buchfink, founder and president of Mattress Mattress. "All decisions regarding the program and its operations are made by our management team as a group," she explains.
Last year, was Matts 4 Kids' biggest year for requests. For example, Neighbourlink Calgary - a non-profit organization that provides furniture, household items, baby supplies, food hampers and more to local people who are living below the poverty line - requested 109 mattresses for children on their waiting list. Later in the year, it asked for another 90.
Fecho notes that over the course of 2011, Mattress Mattress donated some 359 mattresses -with a total retail value of $57,081 - to all types of organizations. "But best of all, 359 kids throughout Alberta were now sleeping off the floor!" she enthuses.
This year, the program has added several new organizations to its roster of community groups that need mattresses from time to time. Among them are ENVIROS, an organization for youth in distress; the Red Deer Women's Emergency Shelter; Hull Child & Family Services; the Red Deer Presbytery Camp Society; and, Stephen's Backpack Society (which has expanded its charitable services from backpacks to helping provide safe and clean living environments for families).
During the first half of 2012, Matt 4 Kids donated some 84 twin-sized mattresses, with an estimated retail value of $14,196 to a number of organizations. Just recently, a project with ENVIROS ended with the donation of another 32 twin mattresses (estimated retail value $5,408). These beds will be used in the group's shelters, kids' camps and for a number of individual children in need.
"Each of these groups works so hard to help others, it's heartwarming and you can't help but want to be part of what they do," Fecho said.
At the end of May, Mattress Mattress donated another 40 mattresses to Neighbourlink.
Most of the mattresses donated through Matt 4 Kids are supplied by King Koil Canada. "Alykhan Sunderji (vice president of King Koil Canada) is a tremendous supporter and generously provides us with a discount on all mattresses purchased for donations," Fecho said.
Where it can, Mattress Mattress responds to other community organizations - such as the Rotary International and the Optimist Club. Fecho notes their ability to respond to these requests is often limited as Matt 4 Kids is their primary ‘giving back' effort. Each request is considered individually and often the response takes the form of other types of donations or "mattress bucks" that can be auctioned or raffled to raise money for their efforts.
"As a retailer that's grateful for the success that the communities we serve have given us, it's most rewarding to give back," Fecho said, adding, "And how better than to give in ways that really make a difference to those less fortunate than us. The organizations we work with provide things that we take for granted every day, things like a clean mattress, or a table and chairs to eat from."