Conscious party: Sleep Tight Kids envisions safe and cozy nights

A SYMBOL OF SAFETY: Three-year-old Will and his mother arrived at a women's shelter without any personal belongings. But a stuffed animal from Sleep Tight Kids, which Will called his "wubby," quickly became a source of comfort. Photo by Jill Schwarzkopf of Realities Photography Photo by Jill Schwarzkopf of Realities Photography

WHAT: A fundraiser featuring kid-friendly activities and music by Grits & Soul

WHEN: Sunday, May 1, 6-9 p.m.

WHERE: Bold Rock Hard Cider, Mills River

WHY: “When we started in 2009, we only gave out 70 things,” says Sleep Tight Kids founder Jill Schwarzkopf, whose nonprofit provides vulnerable children with unused bedtime amenities like pajamas, books, stuffed animals, blankets and dental hygiene kits. That number grew to 5,000 in 2015, when the Department of Social Services in multiple counties joined an existing list of partner distributors.

Though Schwarzkopf’s 2016 tally is already approaching 2,000 items dispersed, she’s set a goal of nearly 10 times that for the year. An upcoming benefit will help buy more creature comforts, spreading the sense of hope and safety further.

“We’re really trying to get the kids involved,” she says of the event, which features attractions like face painting, giant Jenga, ladder ball, horseshoes, Legos, sidewalk chalk and soccer balls. The raffle, too, promises kid-friendly loot: a gift card for Asheville’s Fun Depot, a summer camp certificate for The Little Gym, a Lego set from Bricks for Kids, a half-day pass at Zaniac and an oversized stuffed animal from O.P. Taylor’s toy store.

The event also offers a separate raffle for adults, live country and Americana music by Grits & Soul, and food for purchase from Chef Daddy’s Food Truck and Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn.

“My hope for the future is to get Sleep Tight Kids in other cities,” Schwarzkopf says, and right now, her volunteer-run operation has almost no expenses — just website upkeep and PayPal fees. “So, about 98 percent of the money goes straight to purchasing items for the kids.”

Admission ($30 per person or $50 per couple in advanced and $35 per person at the door) includes light treats and one alcoholic or nonalcoholic drink donated by Bold Rock. Kids get in free. Visit sleeptightkids.org for information or tickets.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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