In 2016, The Salvation Army received a call from Kevin Gatlin, a local entrepreneur who kindly wanted to donate bedsheets to the Center of Hope shelter. Little did we know, that one call would spark a tremendous relationship, and those sheets would be like nothing we had ever seen before.
Gatlin founded his company Playtime Edventures after visiting a friend’s sick child in the hospital. He wanted to create a way for children to learn and have fun when they are stuck in bed or displaced from their home. He solicited the help of teachers and doctors to create the Playtime sheets, filled with 50 games, activities, fun facts and more. His Slumber Bags are portable versions, with more than 30 games and activities.
When designing this innovative items – which took more than two years – Gatlin recalls wanting “the sheets to have so many things for kids to do that they would never get bored playing with them.” The outcome has landed the Charlotte-based businessman on national news programs such as Good Morning, America.
In addition to his previous sheet donations to the shelter, last week, Gatlin dropped off 30 of his Slumber Bags to help families have temporary relocated to local motels to safely social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. But, adjusting to stay-at-home requirements is even more difficult for families who don’t have a home. Case workers and staff from The Salvation Army quickly realized the urgent need to keep children experiencing homelessness engaged during this time. The school systems and teachers are working hard to provide virtual learning, but more needed to be done to support children after the assignments are completed.
“For our families in local motels, we knew we needed to provide additional activities, so Gatlin’s Slumber Bag donation is right on time,” said Brent Rinehart, Director of Communications for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. “Thanks to our Advisory Board and other volunteers, we have collected more than 200 board games, activities and puzzles for these families. But, these Slumber Bags will not only provide comfort for children in motels, but games and activities to keep them entertained, learning and growing.”
While the sheets and Slumber Bags have been available for individual purchase since the beginning, donating has always been close to Gatlin’s heart. That call in 2016 to The Salvation Army represented his first major donation to a local nonprofit. Since then, he’s donated sheets to other shelters, dozens of hospitals and orphanages. For every set purchased on his website – www.PlaytimeEdventures.com – he will donate a set.
“I'm truly happy these Slumber Bags will provide a valuable service to those who deserve it,” Gatlin said. “The blessings in life come from giving not receiving.”