Like so many this time of year, Rees Carroll’s life is a busy one. But even with a small child and a packed schedule, his focus remains squarely on the nonprofit he founded back in 2012 — Operation Bed Spread.
The 501c3 uses donated beds and funds to offer needy children a place to lay their heads at night. As unbelievable as it may seem, many youngsters in the community go without this simple comfort, something Carroll discovered when mentoring a student a few years back.
Since then, he’s formed a team that goes about receiving and cleaning donated beds (twin size) and delivering them to area families. The recipients are pointed to the charity through school counselors, DEFAX, Amity House, FaithWorks and other outreach organizations.
While Operation Bed Spread has done incredible work — supplying more than 930 beds for families since January of 2013 — the need continues to grow.
“The demand is still there, it’s higher than it’s ever been. And it’s not that we’re not still going, we are, but we really haven’t had a lot (of beds) to give people,” he said.
“When people needing beds call, we do keep their name and information. But we just haven’t had the financial support that we had last year so it’s getting harder and harder for us.”
While donating twin bed frames, mattresses and bedding is important, funds to run the charity are equally critical. Many services, like the mattress cleaning, are donated by local businesses but the gas and the insurance to cover trucks depends fully on monetary gifts.
Unfortunately, those have dried up a bit, which can limit the amount of good the group can do.
“The bed donations are great ... that’s important. But we really need those financial donations as much as we need twin beds,” he said.
“While people give us things, it’s really just easier to go buy what we need ourselves.”
But Carroll doesn’t want Golden Islanders to simply send checks — though they are gladly accepted. For the past two years, Operation Bed Spread has hosted two annual fundraisers, one in the fall — Back to School BEDLam and and one during the Christmas season — Holiday BEDLam — to help generate much needed dollars.
The Back to School installment is a little over a week away. Slated for 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at Brogen’s South in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island. The $25 admission charge, which will be collected at the door, gets attendees food plus happy hour priced beer and wine. It also offers access to a performance by the Traveling Riverside Band and a buffet of raffle items.
Donations will be accepted outside of the cover charge, but this year, they will not be taking beds onsite.
Carroll is optimistic for another great event and hopes to see the community turn out to support it.
“This is the second year we’ve done this one at Brogen’s. The food is phenomenal, and it’s all kid-friendly. Last year, we had a huge turn out, about 250 people,” he said.
“We like to have it the week after school starts back to give everyone a chance to settle in first. It also gives the schools more time to get in touch with us and figure out what the needs are.”
Whatever that may be this year, Carroll and the rest of the Operation Bed Spread team are committed to helping. Of course, the only way they can make the greatest impact depends on the support of the community.
“There are so many children that need help. But I feel like the community will get behind us ... they always do. If we can get the right amount of money, there’s no reason that we can’t hit that 1,000 bed mark before our next fundraiser in December,” he said.