Sleep Center donates mattresses to firefighters
Five Tempur-pedic mattresses will each be given to fire departments in Panama City, Lynn Haven and Panama City Beach
By Tyra Jackson
The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Firefighters may only get a few hours of sleep a night when they're on shift, but a donation from the Sleep Center Superstore in Panama City will ensure those precious hours are spent on a quality mattress.
Through a partnership with Tempur-pedic and local Rotary Clubs, five Tempur-pedic mattresses -- valued at $2,000 each -- will each be given to fire departments in Panama City, Lynn Haven and Panama City Beach before the month ends. Panama City Beach received their mattresses last Friday.
"We really appreciate the Sleep Center Superstore and the Panama City Beach Rotary Club for this very generous donation, said Panama City Beach Deputy Fire Chief Ray Morgan. "It tells us they really care about first responders who are protecting the community and serving the public."
The store's owner, Richard Branham, said he's sold mattresses to local fire stations in the past. Even selling them at cost, he said, they would buy the cheapest mattresses available.
"I understand they were trying to save taxpayer's money," he said. "I wanted to put them in something nicer."
Morgan said money to replace mattresses come out of the city's general fund budget, and the last time they bought new ones was over four years ago. The new mattresses will free up funds in the budget, and their high quality will ensure the first responders are at their best during an emergency.
"Having such a quality mattress ensures the firefighters get a good night's sleep, however short it might be, as they may only get four to six hours on a shift," Morgan said. "Sleeping on a good mattress means you are more rested and it allows firefighters to better handle the volume and type of calls that we get."
Branham's store partnered with the Rotary Club of Panama City Beach to deliver the mattresses to the departments. Branham said the mattresses were purchased at a discount through a partnership between Tempur-Pedic and surrounding Rotary clubs, Branham said. Surrounding Rotary clubs in areas like Ft. Walton, Destin, Mobile, Ala. and other locations partnered with their local sleep location centers to donate 138 mattresses to fire departments along the Gulf Coast.
Andre Boyd, the Rotary Club of Panama City Beach's immediate past president, said the club loves helping the community and contributing to the welfare of first responders.
"These guys may get three, four or five hours of sleep," Boyd said. "That sleep needs to be quality sleep. At least they can sleep comfortably."
The firefighters didn't get just any standard mattresses. While Branham expected Tempur-pedic to send their least expensive models -- which still retail at $1,500 each -- Branham said the mattresses were 10-12 inches thick.
"When they came in, I was shocked," Branham said. "This is great."
Last month, the store donated mattresses to Anchorage Children's Home.
Brahham said his generosity was inspired by Tommy Thomas, owner of Tommy Thomas Chevrolet. The dealership opened in the 1960s, and Branham said he remembers watching Thomas on television, and adored his altruistic spirit and love for the community.
"I feel blessed to be in the position I'm in now," he said. "Everything I have now is a blessing. People continue to purchase from my store, and I'm blessed to give back. I love Bay County. I think everybody that's been blessed like that should give back."
(c)2018 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)