Simple things that many take for granted, such as having a bed in which to sleep, are not yet a reality for some Pierre and Fort Pierre children.
Volunteers and organizers of Sleep In Heavenly Peace, a new nonprofit organization in Pierre, build beds and give them to local kids who don’t yet have a bed. Each bed comes with a mattress, sheets, comforter, and pillow. If donations allow, a stuffed animal and books are also part of the free package.
“There will be two upcoming bed-build days; on September 12 and Sept. 26. I’d like to invite you to the builds,” Pierre resident Abby Edwardson said.
Teams of volunteers build the beds. Other teams of volunteers go on deliveries and assemble the bed, mattress and bedding.
“What started as a one-time project in a family garage in Idaho slowly turned into a regional, then national organization whose motto is ‘No kid sleeps on the floor in our town’,” said Brian Lueking, Pierre Chapter co-president of Sleep In Heavenly Peace. “We believe all children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads, and we work to accomplish this by organizing members of the community to build and deliver twin-sized single beds to kids who don’t have beds of their own.”
“Our local chapter started delivering beds given to us by the Brookings chapter in the fall of 2019. We have continued to both make and delivery beds in the Pierre and Fort Pierre area,” Lueking added.
The core team consists of Lueking and chapter co-president Dawn Boender, along with Mark and Abby Edwardson and Amy Lueking. Along with over 30 other local volunteers, the group has delivered 68 beds since last fall. “We have built 15 beds locally and have 30+ beds scheduled to be built in September,” Lueking said.
“The donated cost of a bed package is about $175, which covers the lumber, mattress and bedding. It also covers the build day overhead costs — stain, sand paper, saw blades, tool replacements, etc. Ten percent of cash donations go to national SHP headquarters to cover the costs of insurance, websites, software, donation tracking, and other administrative tasks. The local chapter provides all of the tools needed to build and assemble the beds. The startup money for these tools was donated by The Bridge Wesleyan Church in Pierre,” Lueking said.
A bed-build takes two to three hours for a group of 10-15 volunteers to turn a trailer full of stock lumber into 10 bed frames. Using eight different assembly stations, the lumber is cut, sanded, drilled, assembled and stained into head and foot boards, side rails and mattress slats. Volunteers do not have to be accomplished carpenters. These pieces are assembled on site when volunteers deliver the beds to the kids. Delivery takes between 20-45 minutes to assemble and make the beds, depending on the number of beds going to that home.
“We typically deliver one to two times a month, with each team stopping at two or three locations,” Lueking said.
The finished product is a standard twin-sized bed with a wooden frame. The beds can be converted, by adding an extra safety rail, and stacked into a bunk bed. Depending on items donated, kids also sometimes receive a stuffed animal and books.
All funding for the beds comes from donations from individuals, businesses, churches and community organizations. Anyone is welcome to join in for the building. Businesses and churches can also sponsor whole builds (10-plus beds) as a company outing for their employees, or they can have their funds sponsor public builds. People can contact the local SHP to donate new bedding, or they can drop off bedding at the Pierre Music Store.
A parent/guardian with a 3-to-17-year-old child may request a bed; visit the website www.SHPBeds.org. There are no income limitations; the only requirement is a child who doesn’t have a bed of their own. All applicants are contacted to go over their application. A committee approves/denies and ranks them for priority-based on need, not first-come first-serve). A child sleeping on the floor gets priority over a child sleeping on a temporary air mattress. How quickly a person receives their bed after approval depends on volunteer availability and the number of beds available versus the number of requests.
“Build days are currently held in my driveway. It takes about 1,200-1,500 square feet of space for a full build, and we need access to four-plus circuits to power all the tools at once. Our setup is mobile so we can also build in a business’s parking lot if sufficient power is available. Chapters don’t rent space since every dollar spent on rent is a dollar not available to build beds for kids,” Lueking said.
On the day of delivery, the team needs a clear walkway to where the bed will go and room to assemble it. The teams have run into some tight conditions.
“You can also check out our Facebook page @SHPPierre to see some of our current activities,” Lueking said. “We would love for you to come out to a build and see us in action. We have a 10-bed build scheduled for September 12 at 9 a.m.. And, we also have a 20-plus bed-build on September 26 at 9 a.m. to participate in Bunks Across America — SHP’s annual build event where chapters from all over the country build on the same day in order to unite the country and help get kids off the floor. This year we will have chapters from 30+ states participating with a goal of making 7,000 beds in a single day.”
For more information, contact Lueking at 605-310-2067 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.