There are a handful of necessities every child needs to live ⁠—and dream ⁠— safely and comfortably. A warm bed to rest their head tops the list.

Last month, as part of its Hope to Dream initiative, Ashley HomeStore partnered with United Way of Metro Chicago to donate more than 140 beds to kids from 79 families across the Chicago region.

Through partnerships like this, United Way of Metro Chicago is in a unique position to connect donations from community-minded organizations directly to families who need them most.

Strong community-corporate partnerships uplift families 

Founded in 2010 on the guiding principle that every child deserves a good night’s sleep, Ashley HomeStore’s Hope to Dream initiative is making an impact in communities nation-wide. Local stores use a portion of the proceeds from mattress sales to pay for the beds — which include frames, mattresses, pillows, coverlets and sheets.

United Way worked with our community partners — schools and social service agencies across the region — to identify families in our area who could use a new bed. With the generous support of Schneider Transportation, United Way helped deliver these beds directly to families’ homes and to our partner agencies for them to distribute to kids.

“Over the past 8 years, this program has proudly provided over 80,000 children with the gift of sleep,” says Ruthie Bautista, Hope to Dream Ambassador. “We look forward to continuing to work with communities to reach our common goal, to ensure that every child has a bed to call their own.”

New beds spark joy 

On a warm afternoon in the cafeteria of Brighton Park Elementary School, Hilda Martinez and Nereida Oropeza waited for families to pick up their beds. As case managers for Brighton Park Neighborhood Council’s (BPNC) Success & Stability Program, Hilda and Nereida help students and their families address issues like housing insecurity or financial instability.

Through these close connections, they were able to identify nearly a dozen families who could use the beds.

“I’ve gone to home visits before where a family of four are all sleeping on a full-size bed together,” Hilda said. “This little bit of comfort and privacy will give them a better night’s sleep.”

“To us, it may seem simple, but these families are often going through so much on their own, that when they receive something for free, like a bed, it can really help them and bring them joy,” added Nereida.

Families give thanks 

Upon receiving these beds, their new owners were overjoyed.

Rosario Cario, a Brighton Park mom, shared this note of gratitude: “Quiero darles las gracias por el gran regalo que nos hicieron que fue una cama, mi hijo se puso muy contento al mirarla por que es para el. y mi familia les dio gusto por el regalo que le hicieron a mi hijo. gracias por pensar en nosotros.”

[“I would like to give thanks for the grand gift that was given which was a bed.  My son was overjoyed when he saw it because he knew it was for him. It also brought my family joy that such a gift was given to my son. Thank you for thinking of us.”]

On delivery day, a family with two young boys dressed in matching dinosaur t-shirts arrived at the school. Before their father could haul the disassembled beds to the car, the boys sheepishly checked out the boxes.

That night, on the other side of Brighton Park, the two boys would get ready to go to sleep in their room. Instead of hopping into their shared twin bed or squeezing between their sleeping parents, for the first time, they would each climb into a bed all their own.