Jefferson Award Winner: The Bed Lady - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Jefferson Award Winner: The Bed Lady

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- When families in Sun Prairie are in need, they turn to one woman for help, the "Bed Lady."

Lisa Wilkins makes sure all children have something to sleep on.

That's why she's November's Jefferson Award Winner.

Five-and-a-half years ago, Lisa went to her daughter's Sun Prairie elementary school to find out if there was anything in the community she could help with.

This was the response she got from a school administrator.

"I've got kids who haven't eaten since they left school yesterday. I've got kids who don't know where their backpack is because they're not sure whose couch they were on last night. I've got kids sleeping on floors and I've got kids sleeping in cars. How do you want to help?"

Lisa had no idea more than 50% of kids in the school are living in poverty.

So she sprang into action.

"We just started sending out emails to our neighbors and saying 'Hey, does anyone have an extra mattress? Would you like to donate it to a family in need?"

It started with beds for eight families, but the need was much greater.

So Lisa teamed up with a community organization.

"Sunshine Place and Sunshine Connections reached out to us and said ,'Hey, we can help. Come work with us and let's put this idea together.' Thank goodness they did because we weren't really sure where we were gonna go at that point," says Lisa.

The Sun Prairie High School boys baseball team also stepped in collecting 22 new beds in their first mattress sale and 67 in the second.

"It was fabulous. It was an answer to prayers most definitely," says Lisa.

Community members have donated sheets and pillows, the team at Hallman Lindsay Paints uses their trucks to pick up the beds in Milwaukee and a kind neighbor offers space to store them.

There are about 20 beds in storage now waiting to be delivered.

But the need is so great in the community that they won't even last through the end of the year.

Lisa says, "This means a lot to so many kids that have probably never ever had their own bed. So it's an opportunity to help them get a good night's sleep which I hope will help them do better in school, which will help them be better in the community, which is just a great big snow ball effect."

An effect that's now rolled into all schools in Sun Prairie and helps more than 100 kids a year.

Peter Curran, a board member at Sunshine Place, says, "Lisa not only gave of her time, she gave of her heart. She inspires people to help people. It's that helping hand that we really need and Lisa was the first to do that. It's amazing."

Lisa says aside from money they collect for the mattresses, they are always in need of twin sheet sets and comforters.

You can find out how to help by clicking here.

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