In the world we live in today, buying a bed for a child can be an unaffordable luxury for many people. This may be surprising, but 2-3% of American children go don’t have a proper place to rest their heads . With so many other issues affecting those less fortunate, like paying the bills, providing food, and shelter – it’s no wonder something like this goes under the radar. Well, one Idaho man took it upon himself to help change this.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
In 2012, Luke Mickelson was shocked to find out the number of children who slept on the floor in his immediate community. His life mission changed after he donated a bed to a girl who slept on a pile of her clothes on the floor.
“This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird’s nest. And that’s what she slept on, that’s what her bed was,” Mickelson, 41, said to CNN . “When we delivered the bed, she hugged it and just couldn’t let go.”
Watching the excited kid knocked Mickelson onto a new course – he knew he had to do something to put a smile on the faces of other kids like the little girl.
“I sat there in silence thinking, ‘Is that really what’s going on?’ There are kids next door whose parents are struggling just to put food on the table, clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads. A bed was just a luxury,” he said.
One step at a time
As Mickelson began to find more children in need of beds, he decided to learn how to construct the beds on his own. He learned the basics from construction manuals and his daughter’s bunk bed at home. With time and practice, he learned all the ropes he needed to make perfect beds for less-privileged kids.
“That first project, we built 11 bunk beds in my garage,” he said, explaining that he had friends, family, and volunteers join in the work. “The next year, we did 15. Then it doubled every year. In 2017, we built 612 bunk beds.”
“We have a lot of situations where single parents are escaping an abusive situation,” he explained. “A lot of foster care situations, where parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters are trying to help. A lot of homelessness, people trying to get back on their feet. A $300 or $400 bed is just out of the possibility for them.”
He quit his high-paying job to build beds fulltime
Mickelson’s charity grew so quickly that he established a formal, non-profit organization. Sleep in Heavenly Peace was founded with the motto “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town,” and it currently has over 173 chapters in different communities in and around Idaho. As of 2018, there were a total of 14,780 volunteers in several stations working hard to make sure that as many kids as possible sleep on their own warm beds. Over 4,144 bunk beds have been built and about 9,253 kids have been taken off the floor.
Mickelson got to a point where he couldn’t continue his mission and work on his career at the same time. He had to decide which was more important to him, and he chose to provide for kids in need because according to him, “The need was big”.
“I found that the need I have isn’t financial,” he said. “The need I have is seeing the joy on kids’ faces, knowing that I can make a difference.”
Mickelson has never once regretted his decision. The transition was made easier for him with the solid support he received from family and friends. Everyone around him appreciated his efforts and was eager to lend their hands to the cause. Luckily, he got another job soon afterward, and although the pay was nothing like the previous one, it was more than enough for him. He takes no salary or incentives from his charity. The fulfillment in knowing that there are children who would never have to sleep on the floor again is all the reward he needs.
“It was gratifying to see my kids and my family be involved with it and help them learn the value of service, but also seeing everybody else feel and see that joy from helping kids get off the floor,” Mickelson said. “It’s contagious. I was very fortunate to have another company offer me a job. Granted, I took a huge pay cut, but it helps me get by and helps me do what I need to do with Sleep in Heavenly Peace. They’re very understanding of what my passion is.”
Mickelson explains that the children’s unrestrained joy when they receive their new beds is the fuel to his fire. While the beds are being assembled in their homes, they want to pitch in and help out, eager to earn their rights to the beds. The charity does not just drop beds in the children’s homes. They teach the kids kindness, responsibility, and value.
“When we deliver a bed, that’s where the rubber meets the road. We make sure that they understand that, ‘This is your bed. This is yours. This is a possession of yours,’ you know? The underlying tone is, ‘We’re here for the child.’”
To get a bed from Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a family in need can visit their website and click the “Request a Bed” tab. There are currently 173 chapters in 46 states. You’d have to check if there’s a chapter near your location. Next, you’ll need to fill an application form. Based on the zip code supplied, the request will be sent to the chapter closest to you for vetting by the chapter president. They do not give beds to everyone immediately but to the kids who truly need them the most. The charity strives hard to provide for every kid who needs them.
Click HERE to donate to the Sleep in a Heavenly Place movement. They are doing truly amazing work that will never be forgotten.