Students from Mater Dei Catholic High School really got into the spirit of the Christmas season this month by volunteering to build beds for needy children.
So far, some 30 high school students have built 30 twin beds, all of which will be donated to children in Clinton County.
The build is part of a program called Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nationwide initiative that seeks to make sure no child has to sleep on the floor ever again. Sleep in Heavenly Peace was founded in 2012 in Idaho and has spread across the country.
The organization believes “a bed is a basic need for the proper physical, emotional, and mental support that a child needs.”
Rhuann Heimann, a parishioner at St. Boniface Parish, Germantown, helped bring the program to Clinton County.
Heimann’s son was asked by a cousin to work on a Sleep in Heavily Peace build in Troy. Heimann decided she wanted to learn more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace. And the more she learned, the more she thought it would be a great program to bring to Clinton County this Christmas season.
Heimann got in touch with Kevin Rakers, a former Clinton County resident, who is involved with the Salem chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Rakers happily shared his knowledge and expertise. “He said you will need volunteers, donations and a work space,” Heimann said. “My dad allowed us to use his machine shop. After that I posted to Facebook and the donations of money and bedding flooded in.”
At first Heimann didn’t know what to expect. “I didn’t know if there was a need here (for beds) here or not.”
It turned out there is.
“We’ve had twenty requests for beds in the first week,” she said.
The students benefited from about 20 adults who supervised and taught them the basics of bed building.
Jack Heimann, a Mater Dei sophomore, said the project was important because it will help children in his local community.
“I like to think that I could be helping someone that I know,” he said.
Carson Rickhoff, also a Mater Dei sophomore, said the build was a real eye-opener for him.
“We always discuss helping others in need, but I would not have thought there were children in our area who didn’t have beds.,” he said. “We were able to help in a very different way.”
Rickhoff added: “We discuss the importance of service, especially Works of Mercy, in our theology classes, and we complete Works of Mercy each semester, but I enjoyed this project because it was different from the food drives and clothing drives that are more common. I also enjoyed serving with my friends.”
Several local businesses came through with donations. They donated funds and materials to build the twin beds, storage units to store the beds, and beverages for volunteers. And students from Mater Dei and Central High School stepped up to build the bunk beds.
During its weekly mission collection in mid-December, Mater Dei students collected $525 for the Sleep in Heavenly Peace project to assist them with purchasing mattresses, pillows and bedding.
Heimann says she has been spreading the word about the beds through schools and local churches. In order to request a bed, families must have a child between 3-17 who does not have a bed. You can then log onto shpbeds.org and request a bed. The beds are delivered to the homes along with the bedding.
Heimann said the students will keep building beds until there is no longer a need in Clinton County.
“There is definitely community support for it,” she said.