Tracy Lions ‘Help Tuck Them In’

Program donates beds for area children

Photo courtesy of Tracy Lions Over the past year, members of the Tracy Lions have worked to build and distribute beds for area kids, as part of the “Help Tuck Them In” project. Club members sand and stain the parts for twin bed frames.

TRACY — Not every child in southwest Minnesota has a bed to sleep in. But over the past year, the Tracy Lions club has been working to change that.

“We have given out 59 beds, and three cribs, since May 25 of last year,” said Tracy Lions member Lori Alf.

Last spring, the Tracy Lions started a new project, called “Help Tuck Them In.” Club members work together to build and deliver beds, at no cost, to families in need. Tracy Lions said it’s a project that has changed the lives of both the children that receive beds, and the volunteers that help build them.

“I don’t think that anyone here hasn’t been touched in one way or another,” Bob Rialson said.

“There is quite a need. It’s amazing,” Joel Buyck said.

Alf said the Tracy Lions got inspiration for Help Tuck Them In from a nationwide program called Sleep In Heavenly Peace, which also helps provide bedding and beds for children in need. The Lions decided they wanted to start their own bed project, that could focus on helping kids in Tracy area communities. In addition to a twin bed frame, a child receives a twin mattress, a mattress protector, a set of bed sheets and a pillow.

“We started with our own Tracy School District,” Alf said. The club created a request form that could be sent home with every child. Paraprofessionals at Tracy Area Schools also helped get the Lions in touch with families who needed beds, she said. Now, the Lions also work together with agencies like Southwest Health and Human Services, WoMen’s Rural Advocacy Project (WRAP), and the Southwest Private Industry Council to help families get referrals for beds.

“We’ve got a guy by the name of Greg Holland, and he’s a professional carpenter,” Buyck said. “He took the product, he made the beds, he designed them.” The Lions used a few different bed frame designs at first, he said. Now, they’ve got one that they have stuck with for the past six months.

“We get donations of lumber from the Slayton lumber yard,” Buyck said. The lumber is used to make bed frame kits “We try to do 15 to 20 kits at a time.”

“We bring them over to George Erbes’s place, and we sand and stain the pieces there. We build them there, put them together. And then we deliver them wherever they go,” he said.

“We get the entire club together to do the sanding and staining – which is time consuming, but it gives the members of the club a chance to mingle and get to know each other,” Dennis Fultz said.

A crew of around six to eight Lions members help deliver the beds, Buyck said.

“It will change you, delivering beds to these kids,” Buyck said. “There was a little girl we delivered a bed to, and she turns around and goes, ‘Good, I won’t have to sleep on the floor tonight.’ When you start hearing things like that, it changes you.”

Alf said so far, more than 60% of the beds the Lions have built have been delivered to children in the Marshall area. Working with SWHHS also means that Help Tuck Them In can help children being placed with foster families. “They cannot place a child in a home without a bed for the child,” she said.

Help Tuck Them In has become a community effort, Lions members said. As a Lions district governor, Patty Peterson has taken the story of the project to different clubs, and has also worked to get grant funding for the project. Slumberland in Marshall donated 40 mattresses to the program, and Ashley Furniture also sells mattresses at cost to the project, Alf said. The Lutheran Do Day Ladies group from Tracy Lutheran Church have sewn quilts to go with each bed delivered, Tracy FFA members have donated fleece blankets, and the Tracy Kiwanis have donated books for children receiving beds.

The Tracy Lions hope to expand Help Tuck Them In into Murray and Lyon County. “We’re looking for some funding also,” Buyck said. “People have been very generous, and we’ve been very lucky with the donations and gifts that we’ve been given.”

“One thing that’s good about this program is you do not have to be rich to help. You can go out and buy a set of twin sheets, or a pillow,” Alf said.

People interested in making donations to the Help Tuck Them In project can contact the Tracy Lions at Helptuckthemin@gmail.com, or at Help Tuck Them In, P.O. Box 1121, Tracy MN, 56175.


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