For Buford resident Mike Beverly, the issue of children not having a bed to sleep on is a personal one.

That’s because Beverly, who now helps build beds for children, has walked in their shoes.

“I didn’t have a bed when I was a kid for a couple of years, so it kind of touches home for me,” he said.

Beverly was one of more than 100 volunteers who showed up at First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville this past Saturday for a Bunks Across America event to help build kits for 100 bunk beds for children who don’t have a bed to sleep in. The event is part of a partnership with an organization called Sleep In Heavenly Peace.

“Sleep in Heavenly Peace is an international organization with over 250 chapters,” said Brian Buckwalter, who is the president of the Gwinnett chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. “Each chapter has a region that they serve, so we raise our own funds and all the money that we raise, and all of the beds that we build, they stay within our community.

“So we’re serving Gwinnett County. We touch Hall County, Forsyth County, to Cobb. These 100 beds we’re building ... It’s just going to be 100 more kids off the floor in our community.”

The volunteers built head boards and foot boards as well as side boards. They operated as a sort of assembly line, beginning with a group that cut pieces of wood.

The wood was then taken to a next station, where volunteers sanded down the wood. After that, the wood was taken to a wood press station where holes were put in the wood to help with assembly later on. The wood then went off to one of two lines, one to assemble side boards and another to assemble head boards and foot boards.

The wood pieces were then soaked in a varnish and the headboards and footboards — once they dried — were then branded with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace logo.

“It’s a kit that we’ll take to the house, and then we’ll actually build it at the house,” Buckwalter said.

Families who need a bed for their children can visit SHPbeds.org to make a request. Buckwalter said Sleep in Heavenly Peace’s Gwinnett chapter estimates there are about 10,000 kids who do not have a bed to sleep in at night.

“It’s kind of an unknown issue that people don’t realize our neighbors, they have kids that don’t have beds,” Buckwalter said. “For some, a bed is a luxury. If they fall on hard times, or life circumstances get in the way, a bed becomes a luxury, but we all know the benefit of having a good night’s sleep.

“So, you may not realize it, but your neighbor’s child may be sleeping on the floor.”

For some volunteers, Saturday was their first time helping build beds for kids. One of those first-time volunteers was Lilburn resident Andrew Cembor, who enjoyed the experience so much that he said he wants to participate in another building event.

“I love the idea of getting the kids off the floors and giving them some place to sleep,” he said.

One of the major partners that provided volunteers, and financial assistance for this past weekend’s event was David Weekly Homes. The company provided dozens of volunteers and made a $7,500 donation to Sleep in Heavenly Peace to help cover the costs of building materials for the beds.

“We actually, as a company, have multiple cities that work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace,” David Weekley Homes Atlanta Division President Adam Cornett said. “When you have anything to do with children, it definitely resonates with people and it’s one of the charities where we let our teams chose who we work with.

“We take recommendations from our team and a lot of our team has just really identified with this charity because it is helping kids specifically.”

This was the first time that the company’s Atlanta division partnered with Sleep in Heavenly Peace for a bed build.

David Weekley Homes’ Atlanta CARE Team Leader John McNeill added that the company’s local employees wanted to work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace on a build last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled those plans.

“It was such a worthy cause that we didn’t want to let it pass the next tie we could do it,” McNeill said.

David Weekley Homes Purchasing Manager Chris Nies said the company invited all of its team members to participate in the event. This was his first time volunteering at a Sleep in Heavenly Peace event.

Nies said the aspect of building bunk beds was something that was kind of in the company’s wheelhouse so to speak.

“We’re homebuilders so construction kind of comes naturally to us,” he said.

Additional volunteers were provided by First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville and Rising Church, which Buckwalter and Beverly are members of.

This was Beverly’s second bed build, and he said the beds will have a major impact on the kids who receive them.

“It will be a huge difference because they’ll get a better night’s sleep, they’ll do better in school (and) probably be better behaved, and just be able to focus more and help them more down the road,” he said.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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