MISSOULA — Brand new furniture can be costly. Bed sets, complete with mattresses and sheets, up to hundreds even thousands of dollars. For struggling families, that may be too much to give children a bed, but Sleep in Heavenly Peace is here to help.
“It's just about the tangible-ness of what we're doing. So, you know, the building and giving of beds to kids is just such a great feeling,” Chris Bristol, Sleep in Heavenly Peace Missoula Chapter Co-President, told MTN News.
The security and sense of well-being a bed can bring to a child is central to the mission of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a national nonprofit with over 250 chapters.
Annually, the "Bunks Across America" event brings people out to construct hand-built beds. On Saturday in the parking lot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Bancroft, a few dozen volunteers participated.
“We bring all of the knowledge and oversight tools, all of the things that you'd need to build a bed, we bring those to the location," Bristol explained, "Volunteers show up, and we just put them to work.”
Step by step, these volunteers sand, drill, saw, stain and even brand the pieces that are needed to build a place for a child to sleep.
“Today our goal is to build 20 beds for local kids which is awesome. We serve Missoula, Frenchtown, Bonner and the Lolo area. Any family can apply that’s in need and hopefully one of these beds, we'll get to them soon.”
Those in need can apply online to receive a free bed - frame, mattress, and bedding - and throughout the year, volunteers deliver.
Bristol said "bedlessness" is more common that you'd think.
"We've had a lot of families that have been transitioning out of homelessness into permanent housing," Bristol said,“being able to provide them a brand new bed that was built just for them is really a special thing. And for these children I think they just feel like, wow, this was made for me.“
Several members of the LDS church helped out, in addition to providing the space.
“I’m so ready for it. I've been looking forward to this for a while,” Mikelle Hansen, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Missionary, told MTN News. "I'm a big fan of nonprofits and so volunteering is one of my favorite things to do.”
Hansen said her experience does not include manual labor, so the event helped her learn new skills.
“Some of the guys were just telling me about drills and we're like, 'you got to put your shoulder in'. They're teaching me a lot of good stuff so maybe it'll be helpful in the future.”
After a long day building when these volunteers head to bed, they’ll go to sleep knowing they helped a child do the same.
“I know I did something good today and I know it's helping. It's a domino effect," Hansen said.
The pieces on site aren't turned into complete bunk bed sets yet, as they're fully constructed on site of the families in need.
Volunteers interested in building beds, donating bedding, or getting involved in other ways can visit their local chapter's website.