Jumping into a cozy bed after a long day is one of the greatest pleasures we as humans have. But not all are afforded this pleasure as Luke Mickelson of Idaho learned.
He was shocked in 2012 when he discovered that there were children in his community that didn’t get to sleep in a bed at night.
“This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird’s nest. And that’s what she slept on, that’s what her bed was,” Mickelson told CNN.
That was the first time he ever donated a bed that he built with his own hands.
“When we delivered the bed, she hugged it and just couldn’t let go,” he recalls.”
And it was from that point on that he decided he would dedicate his life to making sure children have a restful night’s sleep in a cozy bed of their own.
“When we delivered that first bunk bed I had no clue what conditions were like for some of these families and what kids were sleeping on,” he tells NBC News. “I just knew there wasn’t going to be any kid that was going to sleep on the floor in my town if I had anything to do with it.”
Mickelson, a church-going family man with a great career, started buying wood and supplies to build beds with his own money using safety guidelines and his own money.
He would get family and friends to help out too.
“I had no clue about what the need was,” Mickelson said. “There’s kids next door whose parents are struggling just to put food on the table, clothes on their back, a roof over their head. A bed was just a luxury.”
Mickelson and his volunteers built 11 bunk beds in his garage for his first project and 15 the following year.
Those numbers began to double each year.
By 2017, they had built 612 bunk beds. Eventually, he set up a charity, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, that used training courses and construction manuals so that local chapters could be set up in other communities.
Now there are about 70 chapters of Sleep in Heavenly Peace in 30 states across the country.
They have built beds for more than 3,500 children to sleep in.
As his charity grew, Mickelson had to decide whether to continue making lots of money at his job or growing his nonprofit. He decided that he would quit his job of 18 years and go from making “great money to zero money.”
“I found that the need I have isn’t financial,” he said. “The need I have is seeing the joy on kids’ faces, knowing that I can make a difference.”
Many of the people who request beds from his organizations are single parents escaping abusive relationships or foster parents where grandparents and other family members are helping to care for children.
Others are formerly homeless people who are getting back on their feet and can’t afford the cost of a $300 or $400 bed.
“When the kids run in to see their bed for the first time, that is icing on the cake and it brings me joy,” Mickelson said holding back tears.
Watch the video below to learn more about Mickelson and Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
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