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Positive Change Through Better Sleep

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*This post was originally published on LinkedIn in May 2019 by Sunni Goodman, Mattress Firm Vice President of Communications and Customer Experience, as part of National Foster Care Month.*

As the nation's largest specialty bedding retailer, it's our responsibility to use our resources to better the lives of Americans across the country – whether it's through providing customers with the perfect mattress or by making a difference in the communities we serve. That's why we started the  Mattress Firm Foster Kids program, which is a program of the  Ticket to Dream Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

There are more than 430,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, many of whom have entered the system with few or no possessions of their own. While foster parents are provided a stipend to cover basic needs, it's often not enough to cover all necessities. Additionally, foster parents can be grandparents or extended family members who also may need a little extra support. That's where the Mattress Firm Foster Kids program comes in—to help fill the gap.

We partner with local nonprofit organizations in the communities we serve to improve the lives of foster children – whether that's through providing them with the resources they need to succeed or helping them get the sleep they deserve. With three donation drives throughout the year, we collect pajamas, books and bedtime toys in each of our stores and distribute the donations to our local nonprofit partners. The goal of these drives is to help give foster children a sense of normalcy, even when their situation and surroundings are anything but normal, with items that help create a nighttime routine. We all know the importance of quality sleep on our performance during the day and overall well-being.

In November 2018, we partnered with Jonathan's Place, a Dallas-based organization whose mission is to provide a safe place, loving homes and promising futures for abused or neglected children, teens and young adults. When Mattress Firm Foster Kids learned about the organization's need for new beds for the shelter, we jumped in to help.

Our team snuck in while the kids were at school to replace every mattress at the home and decorated each room with new bedding, sheets and room decor before they got home. As they arrived, we unveiled the new rooms to the foster children only to witness their joy and surprise as they laid on their new, comfortable beds and fawned over their brand-new sheets, bedding and toys.

To us, seeing the impact our donation had on the foster children was a perfect reminder of why we do what we do. Something that may seem so small like a new mattress, sheets or bedding meant the world to these foster kids, and that's what makes this all worth it. Every child, teen and adult deserves to have a safe place to call their own and feel comfortable enough to sleep well at night. It's our hope that these new additions continue to help every child who stays at Jonathan's Place feel at home.

At a minimum, an on-site service day is a great team-building exercise that allows you to see the fruits of your labor first hand. But more importantly, these types of projects can encourage future acts of charity and giving from team members and even just those onlookers who simply see an image or watch a video. Being a nationwide retailer with a massive footprint affords us the opportunity to make real change and impact in the very communities in which we serve.

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