Story and photos by Elani Baltodano
On Sunday, October 3, 2021, 70 volunteers from the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tennessee, joined together in the church gymnasium to build 50 beds for their local community, standing with Sleep in Heavenly Peace to say: “No Kid Sleeps on the Floor in Our Town!”
The project began during the church’s Vacation Bible School program June 14-18, 2021. With the theme “Treasured,” the children spent the week embarking 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 with the goal of raising $5,000 to support the Chattanooga chapter of the charity Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a national nonprofit organization that works to end child bedlessness. All children deserve to have a comfortable place to lay their heads at night, without this their happiness and health are affected. According to a study conducted by SHP, 2-3% of American children sleep on the floor every night; that is roughly 1-2 million children nationally.
As an added incentive for meeting the $5,000 goal, VBS leader, Wyatt Good volunteered to shave his thick, luscious locks, and McDonald Road Church Youth Pastor, Geoff Starr, volunteered to shave his beloved beard that he’d been growing for a year. Needless to say, not only did they raise enough to result in the shaving of beards and heads, McDonald Road Church raised $6,000!
“It was awesome to be involved with such an amazing organization, Sleep In Heavenly Peace. We made the goal of $5,000 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 over $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.” said Starr.
“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!” said Elyse Baltodano, a teen from McDonald Road Church. 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. This project was open to volunteers of all ages, giving an opportunity to even the youngest of 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. The Samaritan Center in Ooltewah joined the effort by donating all of the sheets and comforters to go with the 50 beds. They also donated about half of the pillows, with members of McDonald Road Church donating the other half.
For more information on Sleep in Heavenly Peace visit: https://www.shpbeds.org/
If you or your church are looking to volunteer, visit: https://www.shpbeds.org/volunteer