WOOSTER, Ohio — As a 6’5” 300 lbs. offensive guard with The College of Wooster’s football team, Paul Kelbly has demonstrated his ability to move defensive linemen around the gridiron time and again during his first two seasons. Last week, he showed similar strength and maneuverability by helping to deliver mattresses and frames to needy children in Wayne and Holmes County as part of the College’s annual “Snug in Their Beds” program.
“Coach (Frank Colaprete) encouraged us (to volunteer),” said Kelbly. “He talks a lot about working together as a team, and this was something we could do off the field to help others.”
Kelbly and fellow volunteers helped to deliver more than 30 brand new beds, including a pair to 5 year-old Erha-Anne (who had been sleeping in a toddler bed) and 2½ year-old Hailey-Anne (who had been sleeping in a playpen). Both are daughters of Sarah Norris, who lives just south of campus. “I am so grateful,” said Norris. “As a single mother, this is a very special blessing.”
Just a few blocks away, 5-year old Jordan Graser, who had been sleeping in a crib for most of his young life, was the picture of contentment as he stretched out on a full-size twin bed, covered with Star Wars linen, courtesy of several teachers at Melrose Elementary School, where he attends kindergarten.
Coordinated by Rachel Messenger, assistant director of campus life at the College, the program identifies families in need through a variety of county agencies, including United Way, People to People Ministries, Goodwill Industries, the Red Cross, Children Services, the Counseling Center, Help Me Grow, and Wooster City Schools.
In previous years, beds were provided from a surplus stock at the College, but that supply was depleted last year, so Messenger and her colleagues were forced to look for other options. Fortunately, they didn’t have to look far. A column about the program by Regina Brett in The Plain Dealer last December prompted a flurry of donations, including an offer from a mattress company in northeast Ohio to provide 15 new twin beds.
But that’s only part of the story. Each year, departments and offices across campus “adopt” a bed by providing new sheets, blankets, pillows, and often a doll or stuffed animal to ensure that each bed is properly prepared for its new owner.
Finally, on delivery day, Beau Mastrine dispatches his grounds crew to destinations around the City of Wooster. “Our entire crew, all 12 of them, are involved,” said Mastrine. “It only takes a few hours, and it is a great way to help others in the community.” Others help deliver beds to homes in Apple Creek, Burbank, Doylestown, Orrville, Shreve, and West Salem.
Despite the noble efforts of employees at the College, the need grows ever greater. “Each year, we get about twice as many requests as beds available,” said Messenger. “We’ll probably never be able to meet the entire need in one season, but we do what we can each year in the hopes that someday all children in Wayne and Holmes county will be ‘snug’ in their own bed — for the holiday season, and every other night of the year.”
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