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Sleep In Heavenly Peace Builds Beds For Children In Need

Luke Mickelson was shocked to discover that children in his Idaho community were sleeping on the floor. Seeing the children of families in need sleeping in piles of blankets inspired Mickelson, a former high school quarterback, to create Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) in 2012. 

Today, the nonprofit has more than 270 local chapters in four countries and has built and delivered over 60,000 beds to children ages 3 through 7. Each bed is created by hand by volunteers with donated supplies and is provided with a mattress, sheets, pillows, and a comforter.

For Mickelson, seeing children without a bed to rest on was so powerful that he left a high-paying day job to focus on the nonprofit full-time.

Photo Courtesy Sleep in Heavenly Peace

“I quit my job of 18 years because I wanted to do this full-time, or at least as much as I possibly could, because I knew the need was big,” Mickelson told CNN. “It just came to a point where I could see that my passion really is helping these kids.”

“It was gratifying to see my kids and my family be involved with it and help them learn the value of service, but also seeing everybody else feel and see that joy from helping kids get off the floor. It’s contagious,” he continued.

According to the SHP website, up to 3% of American children do not have beds. Lack of a bed can cause a lack of sleep, which contributes to everything from anxiety and depression to hyperactivity.

Studies show that kids who don’t rest well get sick more easily and have worse overall health. 

Good sleep also translates into better memory and grades at school, better home life, and improved emotional health. Since the brain releases important hormones during sleep cycles, kids who don’t get enough can be forgetful, irritable, and have trouble regulating emotions. They may also struggle with obesity and high blood pressure.

Video Courtesy Sleep in Heavenly Peace

“It’s for their stability, their physical needs and mental stability,” Elaine Snyder, a founding volunteer of the Mars, PA, SHP chapter, told the Cranberry Eagle. “If you are a child and you don’t have a bed in your house, you don’t feel you belong.”

Mickelson’s idea spread quickly around the world, with nearly 300 volunteer chapters created in the past decade. Volunteers can offer as little as a few hours a month to help source bed materials, build the beds, deliver the beds to homes, and advocate for children’s basic needs. Volunteers also receive training in furniture making.

Photo Courtesy Sleep in Heavenly Peace

“These kids that we serve in our community come to us from all walks of life. They didn’t get into this situation because of their choices,” Mickelson said to CNN. “Often, they take their clothes off at night, put their pajamas on, and sleep on top of their clothes. And then they just repeat that cycle every day.”  

“We have a lot of situations where single parents are escaping an abusive situation. A lot of foster care situations, where parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters are trying to help,” he continued. “A lot of homelessness, people trying to get back on their feet. A $300 or $400 bed is just out of the possibility for them.”

Families can apply for a bed or refer other families in need on the SHP website.

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