Getting a good night’s sleep is something most people take for granted. So it’s hard to imagine that for some local children, going to bed at night means sleeping on the floor or on a couch.
It was a problem that Justin and Rachel Kroh of Gardner knew they had to help solve. The couple heard about the national nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace and decided to open up a local chapter last spring.
Their Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Kan. — Kansas City South Metro chapter aims to lift children off the floor and into their own beds. Since May, Sleep in Heavenly Peace volunteers have built 41 bunk beds for children on the Kansas side of the metro area.
For a child, not having a comfortable place to lay their head down at night is a need that is often overlooked.
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“It’s very easy to see when a child hasn’t eaten or doesn’t have clean clothes,” Rachel said. “The need for a bed can be hidden pretty easily.”
The motto of Sleep in Heavenly Peace is “no kid sleeps on the floor in our town.” And it’s a phrase that the local chapter takes very seriously.
Based on the amount of past bed requests in the area the chapter serves, it’s estimated that between 15,000 to 22,000 children sleep each night without their own bed.
For some kids that means sharing a twin mattress or air mattress on the floor with other children. For others, it may mean that they sleep on a couch or share a bed with another family member.
As a second grade teacher, Rachel Kroh knows firsthand that lack of sleep can often have lasting effects in the classroom.
“It can result in kids falling asleep while learning and having problems with their memory and confidence,” Rachel said.
In order to combat the problem of kids sleeping on the floor, Sleep in Heavenly Peace brings together community members for build days.
In a span of three to four hours, a group of four volunteers can build 10 bunk beds.
Some corporations have used the opportunity to make bunk beds as a team building event. Employees of a local Lowe’s helped build 20 bunks during a build day in their parking lot in August.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace welcomes all volunteers, whether you’re an experienced carpenter or you have never built anything before.
Each build job is set up like an assembly line. Everything from measuring, to drilling holes to staining the wood is done in one build session.
The beds are then delivered and assembled onsite at the home either on the same day or at a later date.
Each bunk bed is delivered with a brand new mattress, comforter, sheet set, pillow and blanket. Sleep in Heavenly Peace relies on volunteers to donate brand new twin-size bedding for each bunk bed.
As a 100 percent volunteer organization, Sleep in Heavenly Peace depends heavily on donations of time and money from members of the community.
Local chapter organizers say one need that is currently being unmet is a storage unit to store all of the bunk beds that have been built so far. The donation of an enclosed trailer would also be helpful to the organization.
The group’s long-term goal is to find a donor who could either occasionally or permanently provide a 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot space where volunteers could go to build without the necessary step of transporting supplies from one place to another.
“We would love to have our own space for people to come and build,” Rachel said. “We could have everything ready to go instead of having to borrow a trailer and take everything to a parking lot.”
But for now, chapter organizers are thrilled with the outpouring of support they have received from the community. They say the response from each child that receives their own bed is the greatest gift of all.
“Seeing their smiles and joys are contagious and it makes you want to keep doing it,” Justin said. “And we couldn’t do it without the support of others.”