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Pillow drive helps homeless kids in Forsyth
The Place-led effort also collects blankets

FORSYTH COUNTY — So many families and home decorators don’t think twice when they pile pillows onto a bed, whether for aesthetic purposes or comfort.

But there’s a group of people, many of them children, who don’t have their own pillow to sleep on each night.

The Place of Forsyth County is seeking to remedy that need by asking for donations of new blankets and pillows to be distributed to local families in need.

“While most snuggle into a nice warm bed, that is not the case for everyone,” said Joni Smith, executive director of The Place. “It’s both practical [to have] and comforting to know you have your own thing.”

The idea initially came from Ruth Baumann, a lead caseworker at The Place who Smith said has wanted to “do this for years.”

“She saw a need for people in transition, even the homeless, that pillows and blankets seem to be a need that nobody fills,” said Smith, who entered the directorial position on Jan. 19 after long-time director Sandy Beaver retired.

After meeting with school social workers and the district’s homeless liaison, Jamie Rife, Smith said they realized there are 470 students who qualify as homeless under federal standards.

“Many of them are sleeping on floors without a pillow of their own,” Smith said.

According to the federal definition of homelessness, adults, children and families do not have to sleep outside “on the streets” to be homeless. They simply must not have a residence of their own.

That includes those who stay long-term in hotels and motels, sleep in cars or double-up in homes with multiple families.

There is no homeless shelter in Forsyth that allows entire families to stay together.

While the drive began as a winter-spurred thought, Smith said, they are accepting items throughout the year. Any that are not distributed this season will be passed out this summer during the back-to-school program.

“Children need to have their own pillow and blanket to ensure a good night’s sleep,” Baumann said, “so that they can have every opportunity to excel.”