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GARDENA : Mattress Donation Helps Out Homeless

July 28, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

In an effort to make life a little easier for the area's homeless population, a Gardena-based mattress manufacturer is donating up to 200 mattress sets to shelters and social service agencies throughout the city.

Ortho Mattress Inc. teamed up with Shelter Partnership, a homeless aid organization, to allocate more than $60,000 worth of new beds to needy facilities. The first 50 mattresses went to the House of Mercy, a transitional housing center slated to open in Bell next month.

"Our philosophy is, if you don't get a good night's sleep, you won't be successful the next day," said Howard Roeder, Ortho chief executive officer. "Homeless people go long stretches of time without sleep. . . . If we can help them get up in the morning feeling refreshed, we'll do that. It may be a small thing, but we want to do our part."

The 37-year-old mattress manufacturer donated excess goods to shelters until a fiscal crisis forced it to stop the practice in 1992. After filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Ortho emerged financially solvent last April and began a new fiscal year with a renewed commitment to giving away beds every quarter.

Ruth Schwartz, director of Shelter Partnership, said that nearly all of the 200 agencies she distributes goods to need bedding.

"We don't get a lot of mattresses," she said. "Most small agencies and shelters don't have money for mattress sets. They have to make tough choices about paying for a job counselor or more beds. . . . People are excited to get them. It means the clients don't have to sleep on the floor." Schwartz added that many clients take the beds with them when they move from transitional to permanent housing.

Roeder said with the next donation, he will try to add a key ingredient missing from the giveaway program: pillows.

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