Hope, left, and Brandon Fritz, right, watch their three children -- Noah, 2, Makenzie, 6, and Bralynn, 3 -- sit on the bunk beds the girls received from First Presbyterian Church in Monroe. The church has a program to help families who cannot afford children's beds.
The Blade/Jetta Fraser
TEMPERANCE — New beds have made a big difference for the children of Hope and Brandon Fritz, and the family members have a Monroe church to thank for their improved quality of life.
The three youngsters — Makenzee, 6; Bralynn, 3, and Noah, 2 — now look forward to bedtime and sleep soundly, Mrs. Fritz said. This wasn’t always the case.
More important, Makenzee is no longer in danger of falling out of her bed and injuring herself as she did in spring, when she rolled from her top bunk and broke an arm.
Makenzee still has the top bunk, but her new bed is equipped with a sturdy rail. Bralynn, in the bottom bunk, is similarily protected, as is Noah, who has an Elmo bed in another room in their apartment that’s called his “big boy” bed because he had been sleeping in a crib.
Mrs. Fritz said the new beds have given her peace of mind as a mother.
“They give me a sense of security. I know they’re not going to fall out,” she said. “The kids love them too. It was almost like Christmas for them when the beds came. They brought a bag that each had a kid’s name. It contained bedding, a toy, and books. The kids loved everything.”
The benefactor: First Presbyterian Church of Monroe and its Now I Lay Me Down ministry.
The church has provided more than 2,000 children’s beds, including cribs, to families in need since the program began in 2001, church member Elinor Pokrywka said.
This year, as of Sept. 30, 43 cribs and 71 beds have been distributed with bedding.
Mr. Fritz, an Air Force veteran, is the bread winner, but the family has difficulty making ends meet with his earnings as a security guard at the Toledo Zoo.
He said support from relatives has helped. “We are hanging on by a very, very thin thread,” said Mrs. Fritz, who, like her husband, is 25.
The bed program started 11 years ago, after shocked First Presbyterian members heard from children in their community meal program that they had no place to sleep other than a floor or sofa.
The result was the Now I Lay Me Down ministry, which aims to help children up to 18. Its major fund-raiser each year is the Bed Race to Aid Children, featuring teams pushing dressed-up wheeled beds through downtown Monroe.
This year the event was held Sept. 30. The goal was $30,000, enough for 150 beds, and donations were still coming in, Ms. Pokrywka said.
“I have confidence that in the next couple of months, things will work out for us, and we’ll be where we need to be,” Mr. Fritz said.