Sweet Dreams

Pastor Todd Hilton and the congregation at Mansfield United Methodist Church have made it a mission to reach underprivileged children—one bed at a time.

by Michelle Floyd

It remains an unfortunate reality in 2019 that some local children do not have a bed in which to sleep at night. Mansfield United Methodist Church Pastor Todd Hilton and his congregation having taken it upon themselves to reduce their numbers. 

“There are so many families in our community that are struggling with making ends meet and are often so overwhelmed with providing basic needs that they are unable to afford the cost of a bed,” Hilton said. “Children often sleep on floors, couches or crowded beds with multiple family members.”

About a year and a half ago, Hilton had a friend from college who pastors a megachurch in Tampa, Florida, tell him about a church ministry that made and delivered beds to families who had none for their children. “I thought that was cool,” said Hilton, who also serves as pastor at Newborn United Methodist Church and works as the technology director for Social Circle City Schools. He asked his congregation in Mansfield to help start a similar ministry, and it answered the call.

“I felt sad for children who don’t have beds,” volunteer Mike Davis said. “I had no idea there were that many children [with no beds].”

“There are so many families in our community that are struggling with making ends meet and are often so overwhelmed with providing basic needs that they are unable to afford the cost of a bed.”

Mansfield United Methodist Church Pastor Todd Hilton

They named the ministry Proverbs 3:24, which points to the following verse in the Bible: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Hilton first called Mansfield Elementary School to see if there was a need in the community, and soon after, church members made three beds for a family with three young girls who had never had a bed of their own. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to make each bed and costs roughly $200 to supply each bed and accompanying materials.

“I think [the ministry] is good for the less fortunate young kids that don’t have a bed,” volunteer Tommy Smith said. “We take it for granted that we have a bed.” 

Hilton, Davis and Smith spearhead the building efforts, along with other volunteers, while women and children at the church assist with staining and painting the beds. Even Hilton’s own kids pitch in.

“My boys helped build the first bed,” he said. “It was important for me to involve them, and I try to take them with me [to deliver beds] as much as possible so they can see and count their blessings.”

Volunteers put Proverbs 3:24 stickers and write Bible verses on the slats of the beds, and the church also provides a mattress, sheets, covers, pillows and stuffed animals with each delivery. In addition, the Church Mouse Needlers meet every Saturday to knit and crochet throws and afghans for the project.

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“It warms your heart,” Davis said. “You see their faces when you deliver them. The parents are usually excited, but the kids are elated. It makes it worthwhile.”

So far, about 65 beds have been placed in homes in Newton, Rockdale, Henry and Clarke counties, among others. Hilton recently acquired some wood from a closed lumber company to make more beds, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently provided the ministry with some unused mattresses. Church and community members have donated money to the ministry, along with the Chick-fil-A in Newton Plaza.

“It’s taken on a life of its own and has grown way beyond what I ever thought it would be,” Hilton said. “I don’t say no [to people who need beds]. It’s something I never imagined.”

Donations are essential in order for Hilton and his crew to keep building beds for those in need, in this community and beyond. He has delivered as many as six beds to one home.

“It’s growing right along,” Smith said. “It’s good to give back and help the less fortunate.” 

Anyone interested in donating money or materials can contact Todd Hilton at proverbs324beds@gmail.com or at Mansfield United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 190, Mansfield, Georgia 30055, with “Proverbs 3:24” written in the memo line of any checks. Those in need may also contact Hilton, as the ministry assists not only low-income families but those who have lost items in fires, floods or to any other circumstances.

Click here to read more stories by Michelle Floyd.

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