There’s a new group in town, and they want to make sure every child has a real bed.
While the rain pounded out a rhythm above them, a large group of volunteers pounded, sanded and screwed new beds together Saturday morning at the Lehi Lowe’s.
Gathered together for a new cause, the band of neon green-shirted workers were there as part of the inaugural build of the Lehi chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace nonprofit. With the mantra, “No child sleeps on the floor in our town,” the charity builds and supplies beds — from frame to mattress to pillow and bedding, all for about $250 — for children whose caregivers can’t afford them.
Started by Luke Mickelson a few years ago in Idaho, the nonprofit has grown throughout Idaho and into California and Minnesota. Matthew McEwen, project manager at MaritzCX, and Brad Andrew, a physician assistant in American Fork, are friends of Mickleson’s, and wanted to expand his reach to Utah. They also wanted a chance to give their own children opportunities for service. So they started the Lehi group in February.
“During the election, my kids were seeing all the bad stuff. I know there are good people out there, and I want to teach my kids to see that there are people in need, and also people willing to share,” McEwen said.
He wasn’t disappointed Saturday. He couldn’t stop thanking Lowe’s store manager Jennifer Baysinger and assistant manager Jim Alig. They provided a place to build, tools to work with, and even pre-cut the 2x4s and 2x6s needed.
Also, many friends, family and community members came out to spend about four hours assembling about 40 beds. The process, refined by Mickelson, ran like a well-oiled machine, with stations for rough sanding, drilling, assembly, fine sanding, staining and even branding each bed with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace logo.
The beds then went into the organization’s donated trailer to be hauled to a local storage unit, ready for kids in need. Andrew said after working throughout this last month to partner with Family Promise in Salt Lake City, they potentially already have some possible kids lined up. McEwen said his wife has contacted local school counselors and found a few more children that need the beds.
“Right now, we’re open to anybody within a reasonable driving distance,” Andrew said.
McEwen wants to get their name out locally, so families will apply for the beds at the Sleep in Heavenly Peace website, sleepinheavenlypeace.org. He and Andrew’s goal with the Lehi chapter is to reach local children who have no real bed to sleep on each night. They’ve been surprised, as they’ve reached out to the local community, how many children that is.
“Family Promise is an organization that helps homeless families transition to homes. But we’ve also seen grandparents who suddenly got their grandkids, and they weren’t planning on it,” Andrew said.
Besides helping others, McEwen is glad to see how much his own four children are catching the vision — all on their own. His daughter, Kaitlin McEwen, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lehi High School, has been working with Lehi’s National Honor Society to raise funds and garner school support for the nonprofit.
She hopes to plan a build that Lehi High School students can participate in. For Saturday’s event, she’d convinced a few of her friends to join her.
“I didn’t think there was a lot of need in our community, but as we talked to people, I realized there is a need for these beds,” Kaitlin said. “Planning for this gets me excited and gives me something to look forward to after school.”
Kaitlin was at one of the sanding stations Saturday with her friend and fellow sophomore, Kayla Pendleton, working nonstop throughout the morning, while laughing and chatting with each other.
“Every time we finish sanding a bed, we don’t even have a minute break. There’s another bed ready for us,” Kaitlin said. “It’s awesome.”