The sight of a wood-frame, navy blue-cushioned couch coming through his front door got 4-year-old Brady Goff pretty excited. "Yeah!" he shouted. "I'm going to play with that!" Another identical couch and a matching chair came in next, followed by a coffee table, two dressers and three twin bed frames. "What?" the boy asked, of no one in particular. "More stuff?"
The parade of donated furniture into his Dade Oaks home may have been a puzzle to Brady, but for his parents, Duane Goff and his fiancee, Carla Heflin, it was a giant blessing. Besides Brady, the couple has three other boys between them, ages 16 months, 9 and 16.
"I'm just really, really grateful," said Heflin, 31. "Even a cheap used couch is $200, and I just don't have that."
Heflin and a handful of other families in Dade Oaks, along with residents of several other low-income housing areas in Dade City and Lacoochee, are benefitting from a refurbishing project at nearby Saint Leo University.
The dormitory rooms in Alumni and Roderick halls are getting new furniture. The college has a long-standing partnership with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, so officials turned to Cpl. Mary Guyer for assistance in finding new use for the decade-old furniture, said Ana DiDonato, assistant vice president for student services.
"It's totally usable, good furniture," said DiDonato. "It would be a sin not to give it to someone who really needs it."
Guyer, the Officer Friendly representative for Dade City, knew just where to look. She went door-to-door at Dade Oaks, making a list of who could use what. Some residents, like Tiffany Zink, didn't sign up for anything because they stocked up the last time Guyer had donations in need of recipients.
Zink, 21, got beds for herself and her 2-year-old daughter last year, along with sheets, blankets and curtains.
"She is so awesome," said Zink, referring to Guyer. "She made sure we had Christmas for our kids here, and she's always helping us."
On Thursday morning, a team of six Pasco County jail trusties loaded furniture worth roughly $5,000 from the dorm rooms into a sheriff's semi-trailer, then unloaded about half the load at Dade Oaks. Some of the furniture will go to housing areas in Lacoochee today, said Cpl. David Hink, the Officer Friendly representative for that area.
"I've got one family with three kids who are sleeping on the floor right now," Hink said. "I'm looking forward to seeing them get some of these beds."
Parents of children like Brady, who have playful plans for their new, old furniture, need not worry, DiDonato said.
"This stuff survived eight to 10 years in college dorm rooms," she said, smiling. "It's industrial-grade furniture. It's indestructible."