April 22, 2022

Connersville Deanery parishes help buy 170 beds for families in need

Dan Reichley, standing, poses with a family receiving twin bed kits from the Tri-County Good Samaritans St. Vincent de Paul Society in the Connersville Deanery. Reichley heads up the organization’s furniture ministry. (Submitted photo)

Dan Reichley, standing, poses with a family receiving twin bed kits from the Tri-County Good Samaritans St. Vincent de Paul Society in the Connersville Deanery. Reichley heads up the organization’s furniture ministry. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

Since the beginning of Lent, members of three Connersville Deanery parishes have been buying up (or donating money to buy) twin bed kits like hotcakes: 170 kits to be exact.

And what a deal—a twin foam mattress, bed frame with drawers, sheets, a comforter and pillow, all for the bargain price of $140.

The price is great, but they feel even better knowing who will use the beds: local children in need, helped by the three parishes’ Tri-County Good Samaritans St. Vincent de Paul Society conference.

“We hoped to raise enough money for 40 beds,” said Tony Talbert, president of the conference comprised of members from St. Gabriel in Connersville, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Richmond and his own St. Bridget of Ireland in Liberty.

“Their generosity just blew me away.”

‘One in every four-to-five needs a bed’

The twin bed drive stemmed from Talbert recently learning about the discounted bed kits.

“I was at a St. Vincent de Paul district meeting when I learned about a Utah company called Malouf that works with St. Vincent de Paul” to supply the kits, he said.

Around the same time, he and the Tri-County Good Samaritans leaders were brainstorming ways to make Lent more meaningful for members of St. Bridget, St. Elizabeth and St. Gabriel.

“We came up with an idea we called ‘40 Beds for 40 Kids in 40 Days,’ ” he said.

With permission from the parish pastors, members of the organization spoke at each Mass on a weekend before Lent, challenging parishioners to donate enough money to purchase 40 of the $140 twin bed kits before Easter.

Beds—particularly for children and toddlers—are in great need by those referred to Tri-County Good Samaritans, said Dan Reichley of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. He heads up the St. Vincent de Paul council’s furniture ministry.

“I would say one in every four-to-five referrals needs a bed,” he noted.

“Birthright [pregnancy care center] would recommend clients to us who would need a bed for a toddler. Or child services would call saying a child needs a bed before they can move back home.

“We’ve provided beds for women pregnant and sleeping on the floor. And sometimes an adult only has room for a twin bed.”

Reichley said Tri-County Good Samaritans is the last local charitable organization to offer beds. Even then, the mattresses were used.

“You can imagine the safety you have to provide” to avoid bedbugs, he said. “But new mattresses are so expensive.”

Having the 170 Malouf twin bed kits “really changes the way we can provide beds,” said Reichley.

For now, the organization is focusing on twin bed kits, with plans to offer double bed kits in the future.

‘It brings you so much closer to God’

Based on comments with “folks at church, a lot of people just didn’t realize the need for beds for children,” said Tri-County Good Samaritans treasurer and St. Elizabeth parishioner Jim Mackey.

As he gathered checks sent in from the challenge, he noticed they came from the young and not-so-young alike.

One check was from the students of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School for $540.

“They did a school fundraiser,” he said. “They raised enough for almost four beds.”

Some donors included a message with their check.

“There was one man from Connersville who sent a note,” said Mackey. He read the message aloud, with the man stating that he “would like to buy a bed for a child,” but that he couldn’t afford $140, living on social security. “But I want to chip in $20.”

There was also the grandmother who told Talbert in advance that her four grandchildren were donating the money they earned from selling their 4H livestock.

“When the money came in, each grandchild had donated enough money for a bed, all in cash, in four separate envelopes,” said Mackey. “That was just so sweet. The message it teaches the youngsters of doing things for others is so great.”

The project was a win-win for those in need and for the parishioners who donated, said Talbert.

“If we can show people how to give, then that’s where their mindset starts changing,” he said.

“When I talked at parishes before Lent, I spoke about that feeling of seeing someone go from hopeless to having hope. That feeling is so incredible.

“We want as many people to experience that as possible. It brings you so much closer to God.”
 

(To donate money to purchase beds, mail a check made out to St. Vincent de Paul with the word “Beds” in the memo line, and mail it to St. Vincent de Paul Society P.O. Box 73, Richmond, IN 47375-0073. All donations are tax deductible.)

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