Families in need of a bed can submit an application by clicking "Request a Bed" on the organization's website

By Helen Murphy
May 08, 2019 01:34 PM
Luke Mickelson
Kevin Mazur/Getty

When Luke Mickelson found out there were children in his local community who slept on the floor, he built and donated his first bed in 2012.

Seven years later, Mickelson runs his own nonprofit, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which, according to its website, has built 4,144 beds since its inception and delivered them to children in need.

Mickelson, who was featured in a CNN profile in December, said that he quit his high-paying job once he realized how widespread the need for beds was in his town.

“I had no clue about what the need was,” he told the outlet. “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 began to buy wood and other supplies with his own money and used his daughter’s bed as a template to start building.

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At first, Mickelson, who was born and raised in Idaho, got friends and family members to help him out with his new initiative. However, as word spread, more and more people wanted to get involved.

“That first project, we built 11 bunk beds in my garage,” he said. “The next year, we did 15. Then it doubled every year. In 2017, we built 612 bunk beds.”

Now, Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a formal charity that includes training courses and construction manuals for anyone who wants to get involved. According to its website, the organization had 14,780 volunteers in 2018 and has 150 local chapters across the country.

Anyone in need of a bed can submit an application by clicking “Request a Bed” on the charity’s website.

“These kids that we serve in our community come to us from all walks of life,” Mickelson told CNN. “They didn’t get into this situation because of their choices. Often, they take their clothes off at night, put their pajamas on, and sleep on top of their clothes. And then they just repeat that cycle every day.”

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In order to grow the nonprofit to the size it is today, Mickelson told CNN that he had to quit his job.

“I quit my job of 18 years because I wanted to do this full-time, or at least as much as I possibly could, because I knew the need was big,” he said. “It just came to a point where I could see that my passion really is helping these kids.”

Mickelson continued: “It was gratifying to see my kids and my family be involved with it and help them learn the value of service, but also seeing everybody else feel and see that joy from helping kids get off the floor. It’s contagious.”

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Mickelson also told CNN that the kids are always “excited” to receive their new beds.

“You walk in and these kids are just so excited,” he said. “They want to help build it. They want to run the drills. They want to bring in wood.”

“Just giving a kid a sense of ownership, a sense of responsibility, as well as a good night’s sleep, is tremendous for them,” Mickelson continued. “They learn how to take care of things. They learn value. They get confidence — and they get a good night’s sleep.”