Southern students joined with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) to build beds for underprivileged children in the local Chattanooga area. This was the first build of SHP’s chapter in Tennessee.
SHP is a nonprofit organization that started back in 2012 in Idaho. Its goal is to give children places to sleep by building and distributing bunk beds for free. In September of 2018, under the supervision of Bob Hirschi, SHP opened a chapter in Tennessee. After going through training, Hirschi was able to conduct the first build, which happened to be with Southern students.
On the morning of Jan. 21, more than 40 students gathered together outside Brock Hall in a building by Colcord Drive. Once there, they were divided into groups that measured, cut, sanded and treated wood planks in order to get parts of the beds ready. There was also a group who assembled the beds together and branded them with SHP’s logo.
“I did a bit of everything,” said volunteer Aviella Eugene, a freshman nursing major. “At first, I was helping to make the frame of the bed, where the mattress would go, and afterward I helped with supplying the wood to the people who were sanding the wood…Finally, I was actually sanding the wood myself… This was a chance to be God’s hands.”
Students were able to make 17 bunk beds. Additionally, they completed enough parts to assemble 25 more beds in the future.
“The whole project moved smoothly, and there was a practical side to it,” said Jace Amundson, a construction management freshman. “It’s always nice working with your hands and seeing a product from start to finish. Mixing that with giving back to the community is pretty awesome.”
One bunk bed costs $350 to make. SHP also provides the mattress, pillows, blankets and bed covers for the family. Students who participated were invited to join in delivering the beds, though the date of delivery is yet to be decided.
Renita Moore, First Year Experience coordinator and one of the supervisors for the project, hopes to see Southern students working again with SHP.
“We will love to have another build here next year, next MLK day or any time Southern students want to participate,” Moore said. “If you’ve never done this kind of work before, it is OK. We’ve got jobs for you too. This is a unique opportunity of community service that is going to provide something long-term for a child. It is more than just a meal; it is more than just an outfit. This gives them a bed for night after night after night. This gets them off the ground. It can be life-changing for them.”
To find out more, visit the SPH Facebook page “Sleep in Heavenly Peace–TN Chattanooga.”
Image credit: Raquel Contreras