Having a decent bed is critical to making that happen, Loegering learns.

     Sleep deprivation affects learning making it vitally important for children to get a good night’s rest before they go to school. Many take for granted the comfort of a bed, but for some area children a bed would be considered a luxury.

    Providing those children with beds has become a special project under the direction of Lisa Loegering, assistant director of community engagement at the University of Minnesota, Crookston and a collaboration with community partners.

    Loegering first saw a project for providing beds to  children in need on another university’s Web site. She decided to contact Karen Broekemeier at Polk County Social Services to see if such a need existed here. “I was surprised to learn of just how great the need was in Polk County,” explains Loegering. “We have children who desperately need a bed, and the thought of a child without a bed spurred me forward with the goal of finding beds for 20 children in our county.”

    On Wednesday, the first ten beds were delivered to children from ages 6 to 16 in the county. The needs of children were prioritized by Broekemeier and her social workers and a list was developed to help get the beds to the neediest children first.

Loegering began the work by putting together a list of different components needed for the project, and she was met with enthusiasm from those interested in participating. Included in the project were bed frames from the University of Minnesota, Crookston which were in storage because they had been replaced by a new style of bed for campus use; quilts and stuffed bears made by volunteers in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP); sheets and pillows donated by the Salvation Army; and toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss donated by Dr. Jensen at Renu Dental.

    With everything but the mattresses in place, Loegering began to have some concern about the project. “We desperately needed the mattresses, but the donation I was hoping to have come through was taking longer than expected,” she said. “Fortunately, when community people heard about this need, they opened their hearts and their checkbooks to help.” Those generous gifts purchased the first 10 mattresses, but Loegering is still hoping to provide 10 more beds to area children in need. It will take another $1800 for the purchase of those 10 additional mattresses.

    Broekemeier shared stories with Loegering about the need for beds and how families lack financial resources and struggle to provide for the most basic needs of their families. This week children in Crookston and several other area communities will have a bed of their very own and the opportunity to get a good night’s sleep before they head off to school.

    To learn more about the project or to donate money for purchasing mattresses, contact Loegering at 281-8526.