Volunteers build 50 bunk beds for children hit hard by Hurricane Michael

Jackson County

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — For two years, many children have been sleeping on floors and thrown-out mattresses, but today they get to take home a brand new hand-built bed.

The exciting new addition comes at the hands of a charity called: Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

John Cousins, Tallahassee chapter President of Sleep in Heavenly Peace said his chapter started two years ago, and today marks their 500th bed.

“We have an excess of 120 volunteers here today,” Cousin said. “As you see these are all custom-made beds.”

Hurricane Michael did more than damage homes, it damaged belongings, and for those without renters insurance, it left them in need of a place to sleep.

“Some of these places are like third-world countries that you are walking into. Many of the homes that we walked into, there’s nothing there,” Cousins said. “There may be a couch and a television, but when we walk into these bedrooms, they’re bare. There may be a dresser, but there is no bed. Or there is old mattresses that several people have gotten them off the street that others were throwing them away.”

Cousin said volunteers include people from Tallahassee, Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Marianna.

Park Stafford, a 14-year-old volunteer said he’s been helping out for over a year.

“It’s very satisfying to watch the kid’s faces when they get beds,” Stafford said. “And it’s fun to come out here and build them.”

“It’s cool to go build this but to go make that delivery which takes 30 or 45 minutes and to see what it does to that child,” Cousins said. “You’re making a difference in their life.”

Stafford said he’s gotten pretty good a dipping the raw wood.

“I’m mostly dipping the wood into a vinegar solution,” Stafford said. “It makes sure that the wood stays healthy for a very long time.”

“What we do at the last piece of our build is to brand them with the SHP logo. So that’s our stamp of approval, that is our bed, Cousins said. “We are delivering a brand new bed, brand new mattresses, and brand new bedding for that child. Everything is new, for that child.”

With the holidays in full swing, Cousins said it will feel like Christmas came early.

“It’s a perfect way of a Christmas present for children because I can’t tell you what it really means to a child to have a place of their own, a place that they can sleep. ,” Cousins said. “And it’s yes, it’s like Christmas to them.”

Cousins said the bed is a stepping stone for their future in the world.

“Because, when they have that, they do much better in school, they eat better and it’s theirs,” Cousins said. “And you’re making a difference in their life.”

SHP has 15 chapters scattered across 3 states. This year, their charity was awarded a $350,000 grant to help build beds for underprivileged children. Cousins said in February, they will head to Panama City to build beds for Bay County children.

“I encourage people to get involved with sleep in heavenly peace,” Cousin said.

It’s very fun, it would be very much worth it to come out here and try it,” Strafford said.

If you would like to apply for a bed, click here.

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