13-year-old girl creates program to give beds those in need - WDRB 41 Louisville News

13-year-old girl creates program to give beds those in need

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SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After watching the movie "The Blind Side," where an African-American football player is adopted by an all-white family and given his first bed, 13-year old Jessica Collins asked her grandmother a question: "Do you think there are people without beds?"

Her grandmother, Lynn Whittaker's response: "I'm sure."

Jessica Collins soon learned there was an overwhelming need in Shelby County. She helped create the program "A Place to Sleep," and in three years it has helped provide beds to more than 160 people -- many of them needy children and their families in Shelby County. 

The program has also earned Jessica recognition from the state and a letter from President Obama thanking her for her volunteer efforts.

"I saw him not get a bed and it made me want to give people beds," said Jessica.

Jessica then turned to her church and a furniture store in Shelbyville. Tracy's Home Furnishings agreed to provide beds at cost to those in need. Jessica gathered collections and volunteers from her church pitched in.

"We just asked her what is it we could do to help out?" said Debbie D'Angelo, the manager at Tracy's Home Furnishings. "It makes me really emotional to think about these children not having a place to sleep -- I'm glad we are able to help out."

Jessica says many of her teachers and classmates tell her "they are inspired and that they want to start something ... it makes me feel good."

As shy and humble Jessica is, Sharon Garcia is just as thankful.

"It's been very good," said Garcia, a working single mom whose children benefited from the program. "We've had a lot of good nights of sleep for the kids. Just as a single parent it's helped me out a lot.

"It was just amazing. I got to meet the little girl and I wish my little girl would grow up to be like her when she grows up."

Jessica says many of the recipients have endured hardships, like losing their home in a fire, bed bug infestation and abusive relationships.

Jessica has learned the need seems constant. While nothing is official, Jessica's mother said there are rumblings of expanding her program to other school districts throughout the state.

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