Two Wisconsin furniture retailers, Jeff Dibbles, owner of Al’s Furniture in Rhinelander, and Jamie Valeri, Mrs. Wisconsin 2012, have joined forces to help Northwoods children in need have a safe bed to sleep in.
Al’s is the latest business to take part in what Valeri hopes will become a nationwide phenomenon, “Silent Night, Give a Child a Bed,” a program in which retailers agree to donate a bed for a child after the purchase of a certain amount of bedding from their stores. According to Valeri, the program is an effort to give back to the community, and to help one day ensure that all children have a bed to sleep in.
“I recently heard the story of a little boy who would share a bed with his brother during the school week, but on the weekend his mother had to work, and she’d take the bed,” said Valeri during a stop at Al’s Thursday morning. “Every weekend he has to sleep on the floor. No child deserves that.”
Valeri began a program at her store where she would donate a bed to a child in need for every 12 beds sold. She attempted to bring the idea to other retailers, but was often rebuffed.
“Other stores were hesitant to sign on when I was approaching them as Jamie Valeri, business competitor,” she said. “That’s why I decided to run for Mrs. Wisconsin, to give me a platform for this project. The title makes it much easier for retailers to sign on.”
It wasn’t long before Dibbles heard about it. He was immediately impressed by the concept, and let Valeri know he was interested in participating.
“It’s certainly a need here,” said Dibbles. “I thought it was an awesome idea, and when Jamie let me know she was looking to expand the program into the Northwoods, I was immediately on board.”
Al’s Furniture’s program is structured in a similar fashion to the original. For every 12 mattress sets sold by the store at $599 or more, the store will donate a bed to a child in need, which will also be distributed by social services.
“I am very excited to be a part of this,” Dibbles said. “I know there are a lot of kids in this area that could benefit from this. The more beds we donate, the happier I’ll be.”
Valeri said her goal is to first take the program statewide and then see it spread throughout the nation.
“There are so many children who need a bed,” she said.
For Valeri, a child’s safe bed at night is a matter of human rights.
“I believe that a comfortable bed is a basic life need,” she said. “They should have that one safe haven to get into at night. I believe to a child, that gives them hope, that they can wake up to a new day, whatever their circumstances are.”