Volunteers build beds for kids
PHOTOS BY BENJAMIN CHASE/PLAINSMAN Volunteers work on cutting boards to make beds Saturday during a Sleep in Heavenly Peace bed build in Huron. In the photos below, volunteers work on sanding boards and stapling the bed frames together.
HURON — Last Saturday, nearly 70 people gathered in Huron, to do their part in making children’s lives just a touch more comfortable.
“Oh things just went so well!” said Barbara Lorenz, the organizer of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SIHP) for the Huron area. “I couldn’t have been more happy with how things went.”
That opinion was echoed by Dave Miller, the president of the Brookings Chapter of SIHP, who has been working with Lorenz to establish a chapter in Huron.
“What took place far exceeded what I expected,” Miller said. “I have participated in more than 60 bed builds in Brookings and last Saturday’s build went smoother than many of them that we have done here.”
Lorenz said that the Brookings chapter of SIHP brought a handful of volunteers, tools and the jigs to make sure that the work being done would all fit together. “Several of the Brookings folks were teachers, lending their knowledge to our local volunteers so that we were up to speed,” she said.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a national organization, whose motto is “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town,” builds twin bed frames from scratch, then delivers them to kids in need — for whatever reason — along with bedding, a quilt, a pillow and a mattress. Those in need of a bed must apply through the website SHPbeds.org and Lorenz said that applicants need to specify the Brookings chapter, as Huron is not a recognized chapter.
“We’re going to training this April in Idaho,” Lorenz said, “which will help us become a chapter on our own. Brookings has been wonderful to work with and I am very grateful for all their help.”
“Barb is amazing to work with,” Miller said. “We’ve been working with her for probably a year and a half or longer and have supplied beds for her to get started with there.”
Back to Saturday. In the matter of a few hours, the volunteers had taken wood purchased from Farmer’s Cashway Lumber and Builders First Source in Huron, cutting, drilling, sanding and staining to build 40 beds.
“The beds we built Saturday are to replenish our stock of available beds,” Lorenz explained. “We started with 20 beds from Brookings, delivered them, and got 25 more. To date, we have delivered 38 beds and have plans to deliver four more this weekend, which left us with only three in stock. With Saturday’s efforts, we are set for more beds for Huron kids, which were built right here by local volunteers!”
Saturday’s bed build was funded through a grant from the Huron Community Foundation’s Craig Mattheson Fund and Greater Huron Development Corporation donated the use of a spec building in the West Industrial Park. Among the volunteers were youth from the Huron High School Key Club and the Student United Way — Huron Youth Leadership Council.
“It was really great to see the high school kids there to help,” Miller said. “I love it when the kids get involved and are working with older generations to complete a task.”
Lorenz said that she is grateful for all of the volunteer help to build the beds and shared that the work is worth it when she sees the look on a child’s face when he or she is given a bed that is all theirs.
“Kids need beds for many different reasons,” Lorenz said. “Sometimes it’s because they were sharing a mat with other kids and this bed is a place that is completely their own space.”
“We have built more than 1,850 beds here in the past few years,” Miller said. “Kids are sometimes just looking for a safe place; we’ve seen that hundreds of time.” Miller said that even after building and delivering that many beds that he is both amazed — and appalled — that the need remains. “We delivered 60 beds in November and December here and in Madison,” he said. “The need never seems to go away.”
Lorenz said that the hope is to hold another bed build this summer. “We would like to be able to do a build outdoors, where people can see what it is we are doing. Plus, it will be much easier to deal with the sawdust!”
To learn more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace, check out the website, or contact Lorenz.
“People can call or email me if they are looking to become involved as a volunteer, to make a donation of money or bedding and we always need quilt comforters, as well as people who can deliver beds.”
Lorenz can be reached at 605-354-3516 or via [email protected].
“This program has already had a profound effect on the community,” Lorenz said. “We really want to continue it and build upon what has been accomplished so far.”