Most residents throughout California have heard the Sleep Train commercials about the needs of foster youth. Over the radio or on TV, the ads ask for the community to donate school supplies and clothing items to youth in care, and most importantly, to get involved in the lives of youth. The Chronicle asked Sleep Train where its interest in foster care comes from, and how else they work with the community to make the day of a foster youth much brighter. With the help of Mauri Knowles, spokesman for Sleep Train, we were able to learn more about the company’s initiatives.
Where does Sleep Train work with foster youth?
Sleep Train has partnered with 24 non-profit foster care organizations in California. These organizations are chosen on an annual basis and serve foster families and foster children throughout the state to reach the over 60,000 foster children living in California. For a complete list of the foster organizations that Sleep Train partners with annually and the communities they serve, please visit this link: http://www.sleeptrain.com/foster-kids-partners.aspx
What kinds of programs/initiatives does Sleep Train have for foster youth?
The Sleep Train’s Foster Kids Program hosts six annual drives that collect important material items for foster children – the shoe drive, school supply drive, pajama drive, clothing drive, dollar drive, and during the holiday season, a toy drive.
Sleep Train’s Dollar Drive, which is new, provides funds for activities and events all kids and teens should have the chance to experience, such as going to summer camp, swimming lessons or attending prom. Recognizing that many foster children are removed from their homes with only the clothes on their backs, Sleep Train’s annual drives strive to help these children and their families replenish these items with new items. Our foster organization partners have relayed the joy from a foster child that receives a new pair of shoes that fit perfectly – often times it is the first time they receive something new of their very own.
Where did Sleep Train’s interest in foster care come from?
The founder, Dale Carlsen, gained hands on experience on the plight of foster children when he was in college conducting a research project. He saw the joy brought to a child when they received a new item – something of their very own, and even as simple as a new pair of shoes.
Since it was founded 27 years ago Sleep Train has supported foster children and at-risk youth by providing them with important material items. Today, Sleep Train strives to increase awareness and contributions to foster children and their families by capturing the support of the community and providing an easy way for them to give back to this important cause through its six annual donation drives. Sleep Train’s six annual donation drives make it simple for anyone to help a foster child and their family by making a small donation such as a new pair of shoes, an outfit, backpacks, pajamas, and gifts. These donations are then distributed to Sleep Train’s foster organization partners who in turn provide them to children and families in need. Sleep Train utilizes PR, social media, advertising, and marketing to communicate the plight of foster children and spotlight their needs while also providing a way for everyone to contribute to making this plight a little easier.
How do organizations and youth get involved with Sleep Train?
Organizations can get involved by hosting their own Sleep Train Foster Kids drive to support the current drive the company is holding. On its website, Sleep Train has provided everything a company or organization needs to host their own drive: http://www.sleeptrain.com/host-drive.aspx. Items include signage, email copy and social media copy.
Donations can be dropped at any of the company’s 100 stores and for large donations, Sleep Train will arrange a pick-up. Individuals can get involved by purchasing a new item and dropping it at any Sleep Train store or if shopping is not their thing, they can donate online and Sleep Train employees will shop for the current drive on their behalf.