DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The morning of September 11, volunteers and community organizers gathered at Morris Furniture Warehouse in Fairborn. At 8:46 am, they observed a moment of silence, commemorating the moment the first airplane struck one of the Twin Towers in New York City, marking a devastating terrorist attack that killed nearly 3,000 people and changed the lives of countless others.
The group was gathered at the warehouse, not only to remember local woman Kristy Ryan who was a victim of the attacks, but to celebrate her life and legacy. Ryan, a former graduate of University of Dayton, was living in New York and had started the organization ‘Secret Smiles with her sister.
“They identified families who needed beds, bedding dishes [or] housewares in New York City and secretly dropped them off at people’s houses,” explained Kelly Uhl, a friend of Kristy’s and board member of Secret Smiles.
Now, 20 years later, Secret Smiles is providing beds for children across the Miami Valley. This year, they provided 50 children with their own place of rest. Over years, the organization has provided more than 8,000 children with a bed to sleep in.
“Unfortunately there are many kids who don’t have their own bed, who sleep in different arrangements, and as a result of that they suffer,” said Tom Maultsby, President and CEO of the United Way of the Greater Dayton area. “They may be impaired in their ability to learn or their ability to be sharp because they haven’t got a good night’s sleep.”
Saturday morning Secret Smiles joined Morris Furniture, the United Way of Greater Dayton and dozens of volunteers for a special presentation of this year’s donations. In the past, the families receiving the beds have also been present for a grand reveal and celebration. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, arrangements were made to bring the beds directly to their doors.
“I do miss all the families and the children being here today and I look forward to future events where we’re all able to get together and have the beds all set up ready to deliver to future homes,” said Uhl.
Many of the volunteers showed up with pick-up trucks ready to load and drive across the Miami Valley so that these children would have a safe space to rest by bed time.
” the fact that we were able to provide over 8 thousand children in our community with beds is a positive and shows how kind Kristy was,” said Uhl.
For more information about Secret Smiles, click here.
To learn how to give to the United Way to help with projects like this one, click here.