Rotary clubs donate over $11,000 to Sleep in Heavenly Peace
More than 200 beds will be distributed to children in need throughout the south metro in the coming months, thanks to volunteers who gathered at Northern Tool & Equipment in Burnsville for building events last weekend.
The business hosted an estimated 500 volunteers who worked with a goal of building 250 twin beds over a three-day period – Nov. 18-20, according to Northern Tool.
The beds were being made for Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds and delivers beds to children ages 3 to 17 who need their own bed.
“Most of our beds are delivered in Dakota and Scott County,” said Susan Ryan, a volunteer with the Minnesota Twin Cities South Chapter and Eagan resident. She added that the chapter usually delivers around 50 beds on Christmas Eve to other areas not normally served such as Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Chapter President and Burnsville resident Nate Miller said they finished the weekend with 270 beds. The chapter’s goal is to deliver as many beds as possible before Christmas, and he anticipates the chapter will be out of beds by mid-February. “We already have 70 kids waiting for beds with new requests coming in every day,” he said.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace is connected with families through requests made on its website. Delivery teams contact a family and schedule the delivery. The bed is assembled on site and includes a mattress. The children also receive donated bedding and a pillow. The organization has no income requirements, Ryan said.
Luke Mickelson founded Sleep in Heavenly Peace in 2012 in Idaho after he built a bed for a girl at his church. He had some extra lumber and put a post on Facebook asking if anyone needed a bed. He got an overwhelming response from people wanting to help, Ryan said.
Ryan said the organization has experienced exponential growth in the last three years since it was featured on the American web reality series, “Returning the Favor” with Mike Rowe. There are more than 250 chapters in four countries.
The Minnesota Twin Cities South Chapter’s first build was in 2017 at Northern Tool with 20 volunteers. Since then, the chapter has had more than 1,300 beds built and delivered.
“By the end of by the end of this year, we’ll have another about 250 or 300 beds delivered,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the builds occur at different locations in the south suburbs, usually during the spring and summer months.
Rotary Clubs unite
The bed-building volunteers included local service clubs like the Lions, middle school trade students, a Shakopee soccer team and many others, according to Northern Tool.
Multiple Rotary clubs also coordinated for the first time to work together on a build session the evening of Thursday, Nov. 18. Members of the Apple Valley, Burnsville Noon and Breakfast, Eagan Kick-Start, Savage, Shakopee and Minneapolis Rotary clubs donated their time and $11,250 toward the supplies needed to make the beds, said Brian Bessler, Apple Valley Rotary president.
Bessler said the Apple Valley club was aware of Sleep in Heavenly Peace after Miller presented to the group via Zoom as a guest speaker at a past meeting.
“We didn’t realize there was such a need for that,” he said.
Bessler got the idea later to do a build with just Rotary members and connected with Ryan, who helped him recruit members from other area clubs.
Bessler also worked with Mike Schwie, Rotary assistant governor for Area 2 of District 5950, to coordinate the clubs for the build. Schwie also a member of the Burnsville Breakfast Rotary.
“I think that the real big benefit of having multiple clubs is there’s a lot of interaction between the different clubs throughout the area and it was the first time that all the clubs have gotten together to build a major project like this,” he said, adding many clubs focus on their own specific service projects in their communities.
Schwie hopes that the clubs can get together for another type of regional project again in the future. He said the bed building project was “just a nice event where people get together for a common cause, for a common good.”
Learn more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace at www.shpbeds.org.
Patty Dexter can be reached at email@example.com.