Members of the Blue Mountain chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace and volunteers alike took time out of their day Saturday to join in a national event with the goal of more children having a bed of their own.
The more than 100 national chapters of Sleep in Heavenly Peace aimed to construct at least 2,500 bunk beds in the Bunks Across America event, the first major one-day build put on by the organization, which is based in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“Every chapter across the United States is doing a build on the same day. We’re trying to break the world record of how many beds that are made,” said Pete Trick, co-president of the Blue Mountain chapter, before the event.
Katie Trick, Pete’s wife and the other co-president, said in a text Sunday that 2,690 bunks were built nationwide from more than 8,500 volunteers, breaking the record.
The local group was set up at Riverfest in Elgin, hoping its presence would draw volunteers to help in the cause — the chapter’s goal was to build 20 bunk beds Saturday — while also informing passers-by about SHP’s mission.
“It’s a good place to spread the word and get a lot of people noticing what we are doing,” Pete Trick said.
In all, the group of 15 individuals — SHP members and volunteers — built 12 bunk beds in a six-hour window on Saturday.
While in one area of Riverfest the buzz of chatter by patrons checking out the car show was heard, the hum of sanders and revving of saws and drills filled the air nearby as the beds were built.
Trick said the beds are a standard size and can be used by youth from ages 2 to 17. And at least one of the beds constructed Saturday was already spoken for.
“We have a little girl in La Grande that we’re going to try to get one to (this weekend),” Trick said.
Kerry Cameron and his wife, Judy, who are building a home in Cove, were among the volunteers to help Saturday.
“I love doing this, especially if it’s helping the youngsters,” Kerry Cameron said. “I look at it from the perspective that this is something the folks in a town or a county can do to help the next generation.”
Not that bed building is the only form of volunteerism that can be a benefit, he added. Cameron said any form of help — even cleaning a street in one’s hometown — can be a plus.
“I just believe if we don’t help (the youth) out, we’re all going to lose. That’s why I do it,” he said. “If you’re handy with your hands, you can do a lot of things.”
Another volunteer, Arny Koski of Halfway, added that “nobody wants to see any kids sleeping on the floor, especially not in America. (This) gets the kids off the floor and gets them a nice bed to sleep in. Getting a quality night’s sleep is pretty priceless.”
This sentiment resonates with Alex Clemons, social media manager for SHP.
“My dad was a cop. He was a school resource officer, and (after hearing) some of the stuff he saw and talked about, (I’m glad) to be a part of something to give back,” Clemons said.
The Elgin build isn’t the only one scheduled for SHP, either. Trick said the team is helping with a build in Hermiston later in June, as well as upcoming events with La Grande Rotary and Next Step Pregnancy and Relationship Center in La Grande in the coming weeks.
“We try to have one build a month,” he said.