Seventy volunteers from the McDonald Road Seventh-day Church in Tennessee, United States, joined together in the church gymnasium on Sunday, October 3, 2021, to build 50 beds for their local community, standing with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace charity to say: “No Kid Sleeps on the Floor in Our Town!”
The Samaritan Center, a thrift ministry in Ooltewah, Tennessee, joined the effort by donating all of the sheets and comforters to go with the 50 beds. The ministry also donated about half of the pillows, with members of McDonald Road church donating the other half.
The project began during the McDonald Road church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) program, June 14-18. With the theme “Treasured,” the children spent the week on an epic quest through ancient ruins, caves, and thick jungles, looking for God's biggest treasure. At the end of the week, they learned that the biggest treasure God created was not gold, silver, or diamonds — but them!
The VBS families were challenged to raise US$5,000 to support the Chattanooga chapter of the charity Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), a national non-profit organization that works to end child bedlessness. All children deserve to have a comfortable place to lay their heads at night, the organizations believes; without this, their happiness and health are affected. According to a study conducted by SHP, 2-3 percent of American children sleep on the floor every night, which is roughly 1 to 2 million children nationally.
As an added incentive for meeting the $5,000 goal, VBS leader Wyatt Good volunteered to shave his thick long hair, and Geoff Starr, McDonald Road church youth pastor, volunteered to shave his beloved beard that he'd been growing for a year. Not only did they raise enough to result in the shaving of beards and heads, but McDonald Road church eventually raised $6,000.
“It was awesome to be involved with such an amazing organization, Sleep in Heavenly Peace,” Starr said. “We set the goal of $5,000 on the first day of VBS. And when we all decided it was too high, I volunteered to shave my beard if we made it. I thought we’d never make it. I really didn't want to. But I'm glad we did, and I'm thrilled we were able to raise more than $6,000 and build 50 beds for young people in our community.
“I was so happy to see how many volunteers we got to come out and help build the beds,” Starr added.
“It was amazing to see so many people working together, volunteering their time to give local kids a better life. It was worth it to wake up earlier on a Sunday morning if it means I can help someone,” Elyse Baltodano, a teen from McDonald Road church, said. The volunteers worked in an assembly line, sanding, drilling, measuring, marking, staining, and branding hundreds of planks of wood that were eventually built into bed frames. What started as a pile of raw lumber became ready-to-deliver beds for kids in need.
The project was open to volunteers of all ages, giving an opportunity to even the youngest members to give back to their community. Each bed that is built comes with a handmade frame, sheets, and a pillow, all delivered for free and funded by donations from the local community.