Some area children are receiving a special Christmas gift — new beds and bedding — thanks to the Grant County nonprofit chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
Volunteers with the organization render a unique service, utilizing elbow grease to build twin-size beds for kids in need in Grant, Harney, Baker and Malheur counties.
Their motto is “No Kid Sleeps on the Floor in our Town.”
On Dec. 1, a total of 34 volunteers, 22 adults and 12 children, joined in to build 10 bunk beds at the late Henry “Butch” Goslin’s shop in Prairie City, in his honor.
Chapter president Susie Brown of John Day said she was overwhelmed at the sight of so many gathered to help.
“I immediately got emotional when I started to thank the group for coming,” she said. “Several times I was fighting back tears.”
The helpers kept busy that morning to early afternoon working in different stations, in a production line, to complete the various stages of the building process.
Chelsey McDaniel, who was Goslin’s girlfriend, said the event was amazing to see.
“It was mind blowing the amount of people that showed up — kids and people from everywhere,” she said. “They busted out 20 beds in three hours — 10 sets of bunk beds.”
She added, “Butch would have been incredibly proud because he was a carpenter. He would have been a part of it no matter what.”
From sanding and staining boards to assembling headboards and side rails, many hands made light work.
McDaniel branded one of the 20 beds with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace logo.
Brown said no special skills are needed to help build bunk beds.
“Just the desire to help families and get kids off the floor or into a bed of their own,” she said.
She and her husband Mark started the Eastern Oregon chapter last summer after seeing Mike Rowe highlight the Twin Falls, Idaho, organization on his TV program “Returning the Favor.”
The Browns’ daughter Natosha McLeod, also of John Day, jumped in as well, and all were trained in running the nonprofit and building the beds.
Their inaugural build day was in Dayville with six bunk beds, made in honor of the late Jake Streeter.
Susie said, while she and her husband do a lot in the background, it’s not just them working at it.
“It’s a community project,” she said.
With other helpers, they’ve given away 12 beds, so far, and 14 more will be delivered to John Day, Mt. Vernon, Prairie City, Burns, Vale and Morrow County by Christmas Day.
Susie said being involved in the nonprofit has been rewarding.
“We are all volunteers,” she said. “We have full-time jobs, so we do Sleep in Heavenly Peace things in the evening and on the weekends — it’s basically our part-time volunteer job.”
She said families who have received the beds for their children have been grateful, adding one young boy from Burns made sure to thank each one of the volunteers as they left.
“There have been tears and a lot of smiles from the parents and the kids as well as from us and the volunteers that have gone out on deliveries with us,” she said. “It is also heartwarming to know you have helped a family in need, no matter what their situation is. We are here for the kids, and it’s our pleasure to be able to serve them.”
One mother said she would like to pay it forward in the future, Susie said, and another couple expressed interest in volunteering for the cause.
The nationwide nonprofit, started by Luke Mickelson, has grown from nine chapters before Mike Rowe’s TV show to over 131 chapters in 36 states.
There are five chapters in Oregon, and Grant County has the only chapter in Eastern Oregon.
The nonprofit relies on monetary donations to purchase lumber, hardware, equipment, tools, mattresses and bedding.
Donations of new bedding, such as comforters, quilts and pillows are welcome, but the nonprofit cannot accept used items. Also, they have to build the beds according to specific plans that have been approved and are insured.
Each bunk bed costs $350.
Susie said they can hold corporate builds with a business sponsoring a number of beds and hosting a build day with employees.
“What a great service project and team-building activity,” she said, adding individuals can also sponsor the building of a bed.
She said a friend of hers is involved with starting a chapter in Jackson County. Susie is also in contact with a person who may start a chapter for northeast Oregon (Union, Wallowa, Morrow and Umatilla counties).
“I’m recruiting,” she said. “If there is a kid in need, I’m going to do my best to try to help them.”