Volunteers work with non-profit organization to build beds for children in need | News
Wielding a giant hammer, Aubree Bingaman, 9, of Frederick, drilled holes in a piece of wood.
A cacophony of machine noise fills the room. The sawdust flew. At each swing – with adult supervision – Bingaman has helped bring beds closer to children in need.
Bingaman was one of about 50 volunteers who traveled to a farm outside Buckeystown on Saturday to build beds for the nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
“I wanted to help kids who don’t have beds so they can have the comfort and privilege that I have,” she said.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace has chapters across the country, and the Frederick organization has donated more than 700 beds to children in the span of three years, said Lou Stavely, president of the Frederick chapter.
“I’m wired to help people,” said Stavely, who served in the US Marine Corps and as a police officer.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace takes raw wood, turns it into twin beds, and delivers them with bedding to the kids. They can also be transformed into bunk beds.
Stavely, along with community liaison worker Karl Rathvon, saw first-hand the conditions children in the area lived in before being given a bed.
Rathvon remembers meeting a high school student from Thurmont who slept on a cement floor in the basement with a dog bed for a pillow and two thin blankets for bedding. Stavely said when making deliveries, children often ask in disbelief if the bed and pillows are really theirs and theirs alone.
“It will bring tears to your eyes sometimes,” Stavely said.
More than half of Saturday’s volunteers were students and parents from Frederick Martial Arts in Walkersville. Chief instructor Jeff Chavez said students must volunteer to be eligible for testing and progress in their training.
A few kids said their favorite part of the bed production line was branding the beds with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace, SHP logo. Camden Plog, 9, from Walkersville, helped adults stain bed frames in a mixture of vinegar and steel wool. Stavely said it keeps bed bugs away and changes the color of the wood.
“I thought it would be nice to…make beds for the kids,” Plog said.
Walkersville neighbors Helen Sheppard and Bob Fenimore started volunteering last fall in Hagerstown before realizing there was a Frederick Chapter.
“I thought it was an extremely worthwhile cause,” Sheppard said.
Winston Moses of Silver Spring has been volunteering for over a year with his childhood friend, Arun Phasege. Together they plunged long boards into a bath of staining solution.
“It gives you a chance to help someone,” Moses said.
Volunteers made about 40 beds on Saturday.
To request a bed or to find out about upcoming building events, Stavely invites locals to visit shpbeds.org or visit the Frederick Chapter on Facebook.
“Our motto is that no child sleeps on the floor in our city,” he said.
He said he hopes that one day this motto will come true, but until then the nonprofit will continue to grow.
Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller