The tears came early for Sheila King, 49, when the owners of Austin’s Couch Potatoes took her around their store on Wednesday to select a house full of furniture. A couch and a love seat or a sectional? Which would be more comfortable for her? Which would fit in her house?
A dining room table with four chairs and a bench — perfect for King, her father, Roger, 69, her niece, Katelyn, 16, her son, Michael, 24, and his wife, Lena, 20, and their baby on the way. A queen bedroom set with a dresser and two nightstands or two dressers? Her choice — along with color and style. The gray farm house style for her Dripping Springs farm house, she decided. And a bunk bed for Katelyn so a friend could spend the night. Which color would look best in her niece’s room? Gray.
“She’s going to love it,” Sheila King said. “It will be perfect for her.”
As she sat on the couch, King had trouble seeing herself relaxing there. “I don’t think I know how to do that,” she said, but she could see her son loving it. “We won’t be able to pull him off of that,” she said.
Austin’s Couch Potatoes is giving an estimated $4,500 worth of furniture to King and her family, who have been through so much this year. While Sheila King was caring for her husband, Harrell, and her mother, Janie, who both had cancer, her 15-year-old son, Austen, killed himself. He couldn’t bear to watch his loved ones suffer. Then two months later, in September, Harrell died, and two days later, Janie.
Harrell, Sheila King thinks, was hanging on until the family found out they had been chosen for the Statesman Season for Caring program. Since 1999, the program has raised $9.7 million to help local nonprofit agencies. Each year, 12 families are selected after being nominated by a nonprofit. The agencies take care of the needs of the featured families’ first and then are able to help hundreds of their other clients with such things as rent, groceries, medical bill payments and utilities. The Kings were nominated by CareBox Program, which delivers needed supplies to people with cancer.
“We are honored to support you and your family,” said Brian Morgan, a co-owner of Austin’s Couch Potatoes. “I want to bring a slice of joy to your holiday.”
“This is the first new furniture I’ve ever had,” King said as she was selecting Katelyn’s bed. “We’ve always had kids, always bought it off Craigslist.”
After King made her selections, she and owners Brian and Travis Morgan and Dan Anthony sat on the couch and prayed, holding hands.
“We ask that you wrap your loving arms around Sheila, her house, grant her peace in her life,” Brian Morgan said.
“I’m just so grateful,” King said through tears.
The Morgans and Anthony opened the furniture store six years ago. “It’s been fun,” Brian Morgan said, “but what I’m most excited about are these opportunities. We want our entire team to know that their great customer service, their sacrifice is the reason we can do this.”
Last year, the company was able to donate furniture to dozens of families through Austin Disaster Relief and Hope Family Thrift Store. Right now, customers who donate $35 can get $100 off a $599 purchase or if they give $50, they can get $150 off a $999 or more purchase.
“We need to answer the call,” Brian Morgan said. “Families are hurting.”
The Morgans grew up in the Dove Springs neighborhood, and, Brian Morgan said, while they didn’t have much, his dad taught them to work hard and “to never be too busy for people.”
“At the end of the day, furniture is just sticks. … People and God last forever,” he said. “How will you choose to live your life?”
The furniture will be delivered to the Kings later this month. First, CareBox will help them clear out their house. The house is in need of major renovations, including central air and heat, appliances and a new septic system. The room where Austen shot himself needs to be cleaned professionally. Those things are all on the Kings’ Season for Caring wish list, as are smaller things like bedding, rugs, blankets, a microwave and computers. Katelyn would love art supplies and art lessons as well as driving lessons. Michael King would like to continue taking classes at Austin Community College in computer programming, and Sheila King would like to go back to school, as would Lena King.
To find out more about the King family or to give an item on their wish list, contact CareBox Program, 512-296-2180, careboxprogram.org.