ANDOVER — Laurie Walker and her 17-year-old granddaughter watched with smiles on their faces as Andover Police officers Tiah Smith, Braxton Hill and Buck Buchanan unloaded mattresses and bed frames into her home Monday afternoon. It was a day that would make anyone proud to be from Andover.
The four beds, including a bunk bed/futon, mattresses, bed sheets, blankets and pillows were all donated by faculty and staff at USD 385 and members of the police department. Dressers, which were also donated, will be delivered on Wednesday. All of this coming together in one week after the Central schools SRO’s Smith and Hill found out that Walker’s five grandkids were desperately in need of some help after moving in with their grandma along with their mom three short weeks ago.
“I love doing stuff like this,” Smith, who organized the donation drive, said. “It’s easy to do in a community like this. People are willing to help. I don’t personally have the means to go out and get bedroom furniture for everyone in this family, but people have been so generous and willing to help that I didn’t have to. We actually had to turn some items down because we already had enough. That speaks volumes about the community. It’s why I moved my family here. I’m blessed to be a part of the community.”
It all started with an address check by Smith. Four kids new to the district gave an address that was also unfamiliar to the district, and prompted the check. Smith found that the address correct for the kids, two of which were in elementary, one in middle school and one high school, and they were all sharing one bed. Walker said the family was trying to save up on an extremely fixed income. Also living at the home was Walker’s 17-year-old granddaughter who does not go to Andover schools and Walker’s daughter-in-law, the kid’s mother.
“On the walk through I noticed there were not many beds for the number of kids living in the home,” Smith said. “I saw the need. I gave the grandma a list of resources and thought what can I do? So I worked with the schools to make sure we could get what they needed.”
It took Smith six different trips over the weekend to pickup all the items and bring them to her home. She organized their pickup and then delivery to the Walker family Monday despite being sick. Even through sickness, Smith had a smile that couldn’t be erased in the two hours it took her, Hill, and Buchanan to set up the new furniture in the kid’s rooms.
Slumberland of Wichita also helped by donating two bed frames as part of their 40 Winks Foundation. The foundation helps donate beds to families to help get kids in a bed and off sleeping on the floor.
Both Walker and the 17-year-old were home at the time of the delivery and said they were excited for the furniture and what it will mean for the family.
“I think it’s a God send,” Walker said. “I didn’t expect any help from any body. I’m just trying to get my grandkids in a good place.”
Walker had been living in Andover for less than a week when she got the call asking if her daughter-in-law and her five children could move in. Since then it’s been a scramble, she said, to get things that they all need to live and school supplies for the newly started semester. Walker lives on an extremely limited disability income, and said finding the income has been hard.
“Never at all did I ever expect the community to step up like this,” Walker said. “I’ve worked hard all my life and I’ve not always been with stuff. Now that I’m on disability, it’s even worse. I’m just very grateful. I hope God blesses everyone for helping us. We never expected this.”
Now the kids will be surrounded by family. Walker’s sister lives just down the street and Walker has other family close by. While the family has everything they need furniture wise and for school, they still are in need of a few basics. Walker said the kids could use some toiletries such as tooth paste, hair brushes and hair ties. Also needed are girls clothes size 12, boys clothes size 8 and boys pants size 14-16. Walker added that the family could also use some boys belts in the 14-16 size.
“They didn’t have anything when they moved, so we had to go get what we could,” Walker said. “We went to the Augusta Caring Center and got some clothes. We could still use some more for school.”
Two kids’ bikes, a boy and a girls were also donated.
If you wish to donate contact Smith or Hill at the Andover Police Department (316) 733-5177.