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Getting your bed ready for the track

POSTED: March 13, 2014 8:08 p.m.
Photo special to the Herald/

Children take a ride on the bed race prototype that was part of the Rincon Christmas Parade.

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Family Promise of Effingham County is hosting a fitting fundraiser as the organization makes its final push toward helping local homeless families.

The inaugural Family Promise Bed Race will be held March 22 at the Effingham County High School track. Teams can enter the Race to End Homelessness for a $100 contribution to Family Promise.

Admission is free for spectators, though they are welcome to make a donation as well. People can donate to vote for their favorite entrant in the people’s choice competition or buy refreshments at the concession stand, with all proceeds supporting Family Promise.

“It’s free and it’s fun, and we really want to encourage people to come and just have a great time,” said David Harris, vice president of Effingham Family Promise’s board of directors. “It’s going to be hilarious.”

Family Promise of Effingham County has taken several steps toward its goal to be up and running May 1. The organization has leased a building for its day center and secured 14 Effingham County churches to host homeless families, and it is now on the homestretch of raising the funds it needs to start serving clients.

“We’re looking for funding. Big push on funding,” said Julie Dickey of Family Promise. “We need $20,000 by May 1 to open the doors.”

So far, 22 teams have entered the bed race, representing local businesses, churches and families. Each team is encouraged to come up with its own theme.

“It has been fun to see what people are coming up with,” Harris said. “We didn’t want to be really restrictive with the guidelines. You can go with anywhere from a twin bed to a queen bed to a king bed.”

Following the parade of beds at 9 a.m., the race heats will begin at 10:15. The race finals are scheduled for noon, followed by the closing ceremony and trophy presentations at 12:30 p.m.

The competition is divided into three divisions: open, youth (ages 9-13) and, for the ministers, “faster pastor.” Teams of one bed rider and four runners will push their beds around the ECHS track in timed heats.

“The steering, that’s going to be the key,” Harris said with a smile. “Navigating those curves is going to be the fun part to watch.”

The beds are symbolic of Family Promise’s efforts to help homeless families get back on their feet, through churches hosting them for a week at a time. The host church serves the family dinner each night and gives them a place to sleep, with Family Promise providing the beds.

During the day, the children attend school and the adults are at work or the Family Promise day center. The day center provides the families showers, closet space and an office area/computer lab to look for employment or fill out housing applications.

“It’s rare that you have such a clear-cut opportunity to serve people in a very permanent-improvement way,” Harris said.

Family Promise of Effingham County has been meeting regularly since January 2013. Members of established Family Promise chapters told Effingham’s leadership that having their affiliate fully up and running could take up to two years, but the local pace is well ahead of that.

“I knew that an opportunity like that plugged into a community like this would have this effect. It would just be on rocket fuel,” Harris said.

Family Promise leaders hope that will continue with a good crowd for the bed race. A strong turnout for the fundraiser will keep them on pace to begin client assessments in just a few more weeks.

“It’s very exciting,” Dickey said. “We’ve seen God open so many doors. Where we see an obstacle, there will just be an open door immediately — every time. We knew we would meet goal, because He just kept answering prayer over and over.”

For more information, call (912) 268-0373 or visit www.effinghamfamilypromise.org.

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