He’s also gotten to go out on deliveries with them occasionally. “When I saw how excited the kids were to see us, that’s what really made me want to get involved,” says Steven. “They’re usually bouncing off the walls in excitement. It can be hard to calm them down. It makes it really worth it to see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
Once the beds are finished and loaded on the trailer, they’re ready for delivery. As requests for beds come in, Alan’s crew is quick to respond and schedule a time with each inquiring family. Sometimes the team delivers up to three evenings a week, always after the volunteers finish their day job.
Three or four SHP volunteers arrive at the recipients’ home with arms full of bedding and welcoming smiles. If there’s more than one child receiving a bed, they oftentimes assemble bunk beds for the siblings to share.
All the pieces from the build days are assembled in the kid’s bedroom. Each child receives a new bed frame, mattress, pillow, pillowcase, sheets and blankets. “We like to bring a few different options for the bedding, so the child can pick what they like,” Alan says.
Several quilting groups have donated quilts to them. “There is a men’s correctional facility in Licking who has donated quilts that the men have made,” says Alan. “There’s also an organization called Miracles for Margaret that donates blankets in memory of their daughter. It’s really amazing. We love giving out these comfort blankets and folding them at the end of the bed. The child may want an extra blanket, especially this time of year.”
The Marshfield chapter delivered more than 200 beds in just over a year. When word got out, people started donating. “The community has been so supportive,” Alan says, noting they’ve received grants and donations from individuals, businesses, Webster Electric Foundation, Arvest Bank, Salvation Army, TLC Student Funds and Community Foundation of the Ozarks, just to name a few. “There are several organizations who have really supported us well,” he says.
The average cost of a bed is about $250, including wood, hardware, bedding and mattress. “So many of the bed frames you buy today are made with cheap metal,” Alan adds. “Our beds are very sturdy and built to last a long time.”
To date, there are approximately a dozen Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapters in Missouri, and SHP is actively recruiting more chapters throughout the state. There are approximately 300 chapters nationwide.
“We’d love for the whole state, every city or county, to have one,” Alan says. “For those interested, the No. 1 thing I recommend is watching Mike Rowe’s ‘Returning the Favor’ interview with SHP founder Luke Mickelson. And I’d suggest having a box of Kleenex with you when you do.”
Across the country, the mission is the same. These volunteers want to ensure that no kid sleeps on the floor in their town. Joy lights up the faces of each volunteer and is mirrored in the faces of the children and families they serve. They’re building beds, but they’re also building community.
“It’s something that so many of us have taken for granted our entire lives, but the need is truly there,” Alan says. “We’re doing this because God’s been really good to us and we want to pour out those blessings on other people. I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”
Visit www.shpbeds.org to learn more, donate, volunteer or apply for a bed. Alan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To watch the interview with Mike Rowe and Luke Michelson, visit www.mikerowe.com/2018/02/returning-the-favor-sleep-in-heavenly-peace.
Kaiser is a freelance writer from Hartville.