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"No Kid Sleeps on the Floor"
Thanks to Local Volunteers

           "No kid sleeps on the floor in this town,” says Orcutt native Joe Halsell, volunteer at Sleep in Heavenly Peace, (SHP). SHP, founded in Idaho in 2012, is a charity that delivers hand-made bunk or single beds to children who haven’t had their own beds. The Orcutt/Santa Maria chapter, which includes Lompoc and Guadalupe, “is 100% volunteer,” says Halsell with Southwest Regional Support Manager Colleen Grant of Lompoc, as they spoke to a local Kiwanis group. SHP brings the materials, constructs the beds themselves, and delivers them to area children, “some of whom have never slept off the floor in their lives.” They also buy the bedding. "It really brings the community together with a cause," says Halsell.

          In December 2023 SHP delivered 140 beds of the 1296 total that have been delivered since May 2022, when it began. Halsell, owner of Halsell Builders, explains that beds cost $250 - $500 to construct. SHP tries to stay current with the demand. This month, March 2024, 73 families are waiting for 179 beds. Halsell expects that 20 beds will be delivered a week with 3-4 volunteers per delivery. Equipped with noisy power drills they arrive with a truck or trailer of supplies and construct the beds. They also make up the mattresses with age-appropriate sheets and blankets like dinosaurs, solar systems, or unicorns, for the younger children and more mature designs for the older children. During two deliveries to two different families, on March 1, each received a bunk and a single bed. Volunteer Kathleen Snell says how special it is to know that a child will no longer be sleeping on the floor. "After the first delivery I was hooked. It's so fulfilling. I've cried many times, happy tears." She points to the five-year-old boy who has just climbed to the top bunk for the first time, his face beaming. "This is my favorite moment," she says.

           The creation of the beds is a community event. In January a “Build Day” took place at the Santa Maria Home-Depot parking lot, where 150 people showed up, lunch provided, and joined an assembly line. Ages were “2-102,” said Grant, as the coordinator of the event. Stations begin with marking and cutting the wood, drilling holes, followed by sanding, branding with the SHP logo, and ending with dunking stations for staining. “These beds last a lifetime. They are not particle board. They won’t fall apart,” says Halsell.

          Each month the Build Day is paid for by community donations and sponsors. Recent sponsors have been the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, Chumash, Lowes, and Home Depot. This month it will be Driscoll Farms. 

          Halsell says he shared his SHP experience on Facebook and volunteers have signed up regularly "massively from Orcutt.” Halsell looks forward to his weekly Friday delivery recounting that he and friends used to go to a brewery or a bar  after a hard work week. "Now I wouldn't miss a delivery. … It’s wonderful to serve people. This is a God-given thing. Not something to keep to ourselves,” he adds.

          To volunteer for a “Build Day” or help make deliveries, call Colleen Grant at 805-423-1180. The 501c(3) charity is “platinum rated on GuideStar,” says Grant. “And we are actually almost out of beds.” To donate go to www.shpbeds.com and delineate CA-Santa Barbara North Chapter.” Hallsell adds that there are more ways to help. Email him at Joe.Halsell@shpbeds.org.

Katy Jacobson reporting
 

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