Romeo Brown Jr. and Mattuann Miller hopped out of a yellow Penske truck Saturday morning outfitted in red Santa hats.
Brown, the owner of Rest Assured Delivery Services, and Miller, one of his employees, made for an unlikely pair of holiday elves while spending the day delivering new beds, pillows, sheets and comforters throughout Wake County to children who did not have beds of their own.
Brown and Miller, along with two other Rest Assured employees, Anthony Ward and Michael McClain, were delivering the beds for the Sweeter Dreams Beds Program, which has been sponsored for the past five years by the Green Chair Project on Capital Boulevard, just north of downtown.
“How cool is it that a company named Rest Assured is delivering beds for a program named Sweeter Dreams?” said Kerry Celestini, Green Chair’s project program coordinator.
It was a little over five years ago when Green Chair’s executive director, Jackie Craig and another woman, Beth Smoot, founded the nonprofit dedicated to helping families with household furnishings after they recover from a crisis, a natural disaster or homelessness.
“It was started literally in a closet,” Craig said between deliveries Saturday at homes in the shadow of downtown. “We took the stuff that we had and tried to match it up with the needs in the community – knowing that we all had too much stuff and how much we hate to part with it, unless it’s for a good reason.”
Today, the Green Chair Project is housed in a 27,000-square-foot building. It partners with over 60 social service agencies across Wake County and relies on a “legion of volunteers” to serve over 1,000 families.
“Ending homelessness means having the comforts of home,” Craig said, “a bed to sleep in, a table and chairs for the family to eat together. It’s the comforts of home that make a difference.
The Green Chair Project was able to buy the beds after receiving a city grant. The sheets, pillows and comforters were donated by community members after the agency put the word out through social media. Churches, school groups, families, social workers and businesses chipped in.
“The Carolina Ballet brought a load last night,” Celestini said. “One woman decided to buy pillows to donate instead of presents.”
A warm, sunny morning that felt more like early spring instead of mid-December was the perfect weather for the day’s goal: delivering 101 new twin-sized beds and bedding to children in Raleigh, Wendell, Cary, Wake Forest and Fuquay-Varina.
It was about 8 a.m. when Brown and his three employees arrived at the Green Chair parking lot and began loading the trucks. By 9:30 a.m., the vehicles began making deliveries.
It was just after 10 a.m. when Brown and Miller pulled alongside the curb in front of an apartment building in the 700 block of South State Street.
Ebony Ragland, a 34-year-old mother six, walked down the stairs of her apartment to greet Brown and Miller. The Rest Assured fellows had pulled two twin beds out of the truck for two of Ragland’s daughters.
The delivery men hefted boxes that held bed platforms and mattresses onto their shoulders.
“It’s ideal for a child,” Craig said about the twin beds. “They’re very high quality.”
Before leaving Ragland’s home, Brown and Miller got into the Christmas spirit by fussing over Royal, her 6-month-old daughter who smiled brightly at the men.
“I really appreciate it because one of my daughters didn’t have a bed and the bed frame was messed up on the other one,” Ragland said after they left. “We just threw it out a couple of months ago, so this came right on time.”
Craig said Green Chair, with the help of school social workers, starts identifying children who are without beds at the onset of the new academic year. Green Chair delivered 62 beds to needy children in October and with Saturday’s deliveries expects to have provided a total of 400 this year.
“Many children come to school to sleep,” Lucretia Greaux, a social worker with Wake County public schools, stated in a Green Chair press release. “Lacking a bed of their own at home, the children struggle to stay awake, particularly those in kindergarten and first grade.”
The truck filled to the rafters with holiday beds made several more deliveries before lunchtime.
Brown and Miller, still in their Santa hats, pulled the truck in front of a light-blue brick duplex in the 1100 block of East Street. Catina Williams, a 42-year-old mother of two, stepped out of the apartment she recently moved into with her 7-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. She said the holiday gift of twin beds for her children was “very important.”
“We didn’t have any beds and we’ve been here for a month and a half,” she said. “The kids were sleeping on pallets. I still don’t have a bed, but I’m OK.”
Brown wanted to make sure Williams’ son, Divine, had a buddy to share his new bed with. He handed him a stuffed toy Iron Man and a blue stuff toy.
“Here’s the deal,” Brown said before handing the superhero to Divine. “You gotta pillow fight with them.”