It’s hard to imagine children going to sleep every night without a proper bed to provide the physical, emotional and mental support they need. All children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads at night, and two local students are playing a part in making this basic need a reality for kids in our area.
Allatoona High School (AHS) junior Abby Adams and her sister, freshman Mackenzie Adams, are heavily involved in the local GA-Etowah Valley chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), a nationwide organization of volunteers dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need. In February, Abby and Mackenzie recruited 75 volunteers to participate in Bunk Bed Build Day at AHS. SHP provided the wood and tools and helped set up stations in the school courtyard. The volunteers built 52 twin-size beds at the event that have been delivered to children in the Acworth and Kennesaw area.
How the Adams family got involved with SHP is an interesting story. “Five years ago, my family sold our house, bought an RV (recreational vehicle) and set out on an epic two-year road trip to visit all 50 states,” Abby said. “Our parents wanted to show us what the rest of the country looks like and to introduce us to all kinds of people and cultures. Since we moved around so often, we missed a sense of community. We looked for volunteer opportunities in local communities, and our favorite volunteer experience was Sleep in Heavenly Peace. We stumbled across their headquarters in Twin Falls, Idaho, and fell in love with their mission to help children to sleep better. We were so inspired that when we settled back in Acworth, we found the local chapter to support and have been volunteering with them ever since.”
“A Bunk Bed Build Day is a day that allows volunteers to come build twin-size wooden bunk beds,” Mackenzie said. “We set up rotating stations in an outdoor location, consisting of sanding, drilling, hammering, screwing and staining. We encourage volunteers of all ages at builds, and no experience with tools is necessary. We teach you each skill. Even smaller children can help carry wood.”
Abby said she’s “proud to say that I started a Bunk Bed Build Day event two years ago” at her high school. “It was exciting to see new faces at this year’s build and everyone’s hard work. Seeing an overwhelming stack of wood at the beginning of the day and then a stack of beds ready to be delivered is so rewarding.”
Their mother, Tina Adams, SHP delivery manager and executive board member, explained her family’s roles in the organization, as well as the SHP delivery process. “Families request beds via an online application, and I work with the president, Steve Wisenburg, to vet the applications and set up delivery of the completed beds,” she said. “Abby is the high school representative in charge of setting up Bunk Bed Build Days with high school volunteers, and Mackenzie is a bed build day and delivery volunteer.”
On delivery days, volunteers take all the bed pieces that were sanded, drilled and stained on the build day to the family’s home. They then assemble the bed in the child’s room, add a new mattress, bedding and pillow, and do a big reveal for the young recipient.
“When I first learned about SHP, I had not thought about the fact that families could not afford beds for their children,” Mackenzie said. “A brand-new bed, mattress, sheet set, bedspread and pillow may be the only possession they own, but it is one of the most important ones. The bed not only provides a place to sleep but also a 3-foot-by-6-foot safe space they can call their own.”
Mackenzie added she was excited to help her sister organize the build day this year and will carry on the project after Abby graduates next year.
“Seeing the kids’ happy, lit-up faces as they jump into their new bed for the first time is one of the most amazing things about SHP,” Abby said. “I believe that every volunteer should experience this because it reveals the big picture and encourages you to continue making those faces smile!”
Adams said it’s important for parents to teach their children about volunteering “because it develops ownership in their community and the human race in general. It also builds self-esteem, leadership qualities and quality family bonding.”
Visit www.shpbeds.org for information on volunteering, setting up a build day, donating or applying for a bed for children ages 3-17.
– Nicole Smith is a writer, book influencer, dog mom and plant enthusiast living in Kennesaw. Connect with her on Instagram at booked4joy.