The Fort Payne Lions Club has partnered with Sleeping in Heavenly Peace (SHP) to build beds for local children in need. Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a nonprofit organization that builds and delivers beds to children who don’t have a bed to sleep in. The club’s goal is to raise $10,000 to build 50 beds. The bed build will be on June 19 at the VFW Fairgrounds starting at 9 a.m.
“No kid sleeps on the floor in our town!” is the motto of SHP, and they make a daily effort to provide beds for children in need. Through the actions of volunteers and generous donors, beds are built, assembled and delivered to children who are otherwise sleeping on couches, blankets or even floors because they don’t have a bed of their own.
As of November 2019, SHP has 200 chapters around the United States and has built more than 35,000 beds. SHP is 100% volunteer and sponsor-driven. No one is paid for what they do, and all funding and materials come from donations.
1st VDG Mike McElhaney of MD34A, a member of the Ft Payne Lions Club, said an organization out of Idaho started the idea. They had a dream of creating something to help underprivileged children between the ages of three and17. “They have chapters all over the United States, and the one we’re going through is out of Gadsden,” he said. “They cover a 50-mile radius, and Fort Payne falls within that radius.”
In February, SHP delivered seven beds to Fort Payne. “I got involved with SHP back in January, through the Moulton Lions Club, and it crushed my heart to know that children are sleeping on the floor in our community; you just don’t think about people not having beds,” said McElhaney. “Last time I talked to the chapter president, there were 200 applications for beds just in the Gadsden radius, and last year they had to stop taking applications because of COVID-19.”
The club’s goal is to raise $10,000 to build 50 beds. McElhaney said he’d sent letters to local individuals, churches and businesses asking for donations and asking for volunteers. “We’re in the process of raising money because each bed costs the organization approximately $200, and that is for the lumber, mattress, sheets, pillow, pillowcase and comforter.”
McElhaney is seeking volunteers to help assemble the beds. “I’m hoping the church youth groups and different service organizations will come out and help; anybody above the age of 12 can help,” he said. “It’s a community effort; if we build 50 beds, they will take them and put them in storage in Gadsden until the need arises.”
They cut the lumber to specific sizes, and set up different stations where they assemble other parts of the bed such as the headboard, footboard, rails, etc. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have carpentry skills. It doesn’t matter what your level of expertise is; you can always help by carrying the lumber,” said McElhaney.
“Whether you can operate a drill or saw doesn’t matter. If nothing else, you can carry the lumber from station to station. You don’t have to provide any power equipment; they provide it all. All you have to do is show up and sign a release paper to help,” said McElhaney.
McElhaney said all The Lions Club has to do is organize the fundraiser, raise funds, set up a place for the build and gather volunteers; that’s it. “We don’t have to deliver or store the beds; SHP does all that. When they deliver the beds, they come complete with the bed, frame, mattress, sheets, pillow, pillowcase and comforter,” he said. “So when they leave the house or apartment after delivering the bed, the children are ready to go to sleep in the bed right then.”