2 Seattle officers help 500 underprivileged kids find a comfortable bed
The Beds for Kids program was started by Seattle Police Officers Jeremy Wade and Ryan Gallagher in 2014 after they personally purchased beds for two girls who had been sleeping on the floor
The following is paid content sponsored by OfferUp.
By Doug Wylie for PoliceOne BrandFocus
In November 2016, the Seattle Police Department held its third annual Beds for Kids event, which facilitated the donation of about 500 beds to needy kids in the Seattle area who otherwise would be sleeping on a floor.
The Beds for Kids program was started by Seattle Police Officers Jeremy Wade and Ryan Gallagher and has grown over the years to include around 40 SPD officers who help deliver beds to homes throughout some of Seattle’s poorest neighborhoods.
In 2014, the department donated 50 beds to underprivileged children, about half of which were delivered by uniformed officers. In the second year, that number doubled to about 100 beds.
By 2016, the goal was 150 beds. With help from local organizations, including OfferUp and Mattress Firm, the officers were able to triple the previous year’s total and donated about 300 beds to kids in the greater Seattle area that did not already have one.
NEEDY FAMILIES ON THE BEAT
Officers Wade and Gallagher were working the night shift in the Central District area of Seattle in 2014 when they were called to a home that had two young girls sleeping on the floor, Wade said.
“We just kind of walked away from this family disturbance call feeling like we wanted to do something for those girls,” he said.
Wade and Gallagher ended up buying two beds for the girls out of their own pockets. It led to them developing a one-day event to help those children in need.
“After doing that and seeing the impact that it had on that family, we came up with the idea to have this annual one-day event,” Wade said.
Gallagher said following their delivery of the beds to those two little girls, they found that they no longer got calls for service to that house.
“We felt like we really made a difference for those girls,” he said.
The Beds for Kids program grew out of their desire to spread that positive effect and help more kids.
Word quickly spread throughout the Seattle area after the program was highlighted on the highly popular Ron and Don Show on KIRO Radio.
THE POWER OF COMMUNITY POLICING
The Beds for Kids program is fundamentally a community policing program. It brings together local merchants, law enforcement officers, members of the community, and local news media to do something that benefits the community.
All of the beds donated are complete twin size beds — including a mattress, box spring, bed frame, and all the bedding.
In the first two years of the program, they also included backpacks with school supplies, and this last year they included a stuffed animal with each bed.
All of the money for the beds has been raised from officers in the Seattle Police Department, members of the community, and a few businesses in the area including Mattress Firm, Ikea, and OfferUp.
The Seattle Police Foundation — a nonprofit organization — is able to accept online financial donations and help coordinate the program.
“It’s been awesome to see the community support for this and the impact on these families,” Wade said. “Both Ryan and myself as police officers and fathers, we definitely see the impact on our community.”
In 2016, three full semi-trucks showed up at SPD HQ with 300 twin size mattresses and box springs, and another two delivery trucks with all the bed frames and bedding. Volunteers from OfferUp, KIRO Radio, and Mattress Firm assisted in the two days of logistics prior to the day of distribution as well as on the day of the event.
NEW BEDS, NEW PERCEPTIONS
In addition to all the positive repercussions that come from helping meet the basic needs of kids in the community — and their families — the program helps to put a caring and kind face to the uniform for people who might otherwise have disdain for the police.
“A few years ago, Tim Brenton had been in my squad and he was murdered,” Gallagher said. “The hope is that we can stop something like that from happening in the future. Part of the reason we do this program is to help deter people from wanting to do that kind of stuff in the future just based on their positive interaction they’d had with police in the past.”
If you wish to make a donation to Beds for Kids, visit the Seattle Police Foundation website. If you wish to contact Gallagher and Wade to talk about how you might stand up a similar program at your agency, email them at Jeremy.Wade@seattle.gov and Ryan.Gallagher@seattle.gov.