BAKER CITY — Volunteers were busy buzzing around work benches Saturday morning, Sept. 26, in a work bay at Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s headquarters in Baker City.
Almost literally buzzing.
Sanders were spinning and other tools whirring as about two dozen volunteers assembled bunk beds for the nonprofit philanthropic organization, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which provides beds to families.
The nonprofit was started in 2012 in Twin Falls, Idaho. Its nearest chapter is in John Day, said Susie V. Brown, who is the president of that chapter and organized Saturday’s build day at OTEC.
“We cover Grant County, Malheur County, Baker County, and Harney County and provide beds for these kids,” Brown said.
She said the organization, which started with seven chapters, received a major publicity boost in February when TV host Mike Rowe, responding to a request from a Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter, featured the project on his “Returning the Favor” program.
“After it started airing in the middle of February, they were getting applications to some chapters from across the country,” Brown said.
At one point, the nonprofit had about 1,000 applications from people wanting to volunteer to help build beds.
Today, Sleep in Heavenly Peace has more than 200 chapters nationwide.
“We’re more than happy to support a great project like this,” said Brown, who started the John Day chapter with her husband.
For Saturday’s bed-building event at OTEC, the cooperative donated the use of its equipment, and seven OTEC employees (including two children of employee Ron Rasmussen) were among the volunteers who assembled 14 beds. Those will be combined into seven bunk beds, said Joseph Hathaway, communications manager for OTEC.
“We love to give back to the community,” Hathaway said. “OTEC is part of the community, we’re owned by the community, and it’s part of our mission to give back to the community.”
Chris Kommer, treasurer of the Baker City Rotary Club, was one of several Rotarians who also helped build beds Saturday.
Kommer said she has also helped deliver a bunk bed to a family in Baker County.
“It was emotional, very emotional,” Kommer said.
Besides the wooden bunk bed frame, Sleep in Heavenly Peace includes mattresses, comforters, sheets, pillows and pillow cases, Kommer said.
Rotary member Jerry Shaw volunteered as a member of both the club and the Liberty Brothers Motorcycle Club, which had about a dozen members on hand Saturday.
“It’s a great thing that’s going on and so we automatically just jumped in to help,” Shaw said.