On a recent Saturday in Hanover, about 45 volunteers grabbed sanders, nail guns, drills and paint brushes and got to work building 41 beds that will be delivered over the next two to three months for free to Howard County kids who need them.
The volunteers are part of the Howard County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an international nonprofit that builds, assembles and delivers bunk beds in an effort to ensure that “no kid sleeps on the floor in our town,” according to the group’s motto.
The organization has more than 270 chapters, including six in Maryland’s Anne Arundel, Frederick, Harford, St. Mary’s, Washington and Howard counties.
Volunteer Dan Kagey, 73, of Columbia, said he knows the group is making a difference in Howard County.
“We deliver a lot of beds to families that are coming out of homelessness and they’re put into a house that has nothing in it,” he said. “[The bed] is something of their own, so this a gift to those children.”
Chapter co-president Chuck Scudder, 70, of Baltimore, said during his four years leading the Howard group that about 350 beds have been built and delivered to about 100 local families. Scudder said Sleep in Heavenly Peace is solving a crucial problem.
“Even in Howard County, one of the richest counties in the country, we’ve had no trouble finding people that need [beds],” he said.
Volunteer-built beds go to children who are sharing a bed with parents or siblings, or who have outgrown their own beds, Scudder said. Other kids don’t have much furniture at home and sleep on a couch, mattress or on the floor.
Parents or guardians of children ages 3 to 17 may apply to receive a free bed, or others can apply on behalf of a family they know needs help. The group selects bed recipients based on which children need beds the most, not on a first-come, first-served basis.
The group takes monetary donations from the community to purchase bed-making materials as well as comforters, mattresses, pillows and sheet sets. Sleep in Heavenly Peace also welcomes volunteers who wish to participate in bed building days, which occur two to three times per year.
The home improvement chain Lowe’s helps fund most of the construction materials and tools. Volunteers are not required to have any previous construction experience, Scudder said, and a detailed build manual is shared among the experienced leadership team to help manage volunteers.
Donna Hayman, 70, of Columbia, has volunteered with Sleep in Heavenly Peace for about two years and said she is proud to help struggling families.
“It is a joy to meet and to get to know the families,” she said. “They’re just like me, and so it really makes me feel proud to be able to help.”
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To volunteer, offer a donation, or apply for a bed for a child, contact the Howard County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace at 844-432-2337, ext. 5925 or visit shpbeds.org for more information.