Sew for HOPE is still not meeting in person but that doesn’t mean great things aren’t happening in sewing around the area. Rags to Bags, a project of Sustainable Tallahassee, stopped making bags when COVID-19 struck and started making masks. Since March, 9,900 kits were picked up from their Thursday drop-off site, 14,247 masks were dropped off and they distributed 12,052 hand-made masks plus 93,000 Department of Health masks. Phenomenal job! They have decided to end the drive-through after the October 29 date, donating all masks on hand to the Power of Life foundation event in Jacksonville on 10/31. They hope to begin making bags again in January.
Since many of our quilts are going to Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SIHP), Donna Dye decided to visit one of the SIHP bunk bed builds. Here is her report:
The Bunk Bed Project
By Donna J. Dye
It’s difficult to imagine but there are children, including teenagers, who have a home but do not have a bed, pillow, and associated linens. It is not just happening in third world countries but also right here in the United States, including Tallahassee. In 2012, this unfortunate situation was recognized by residents of Kimberly, Idaho who wanted “a safe, comfortable place” for children ages 3 to 18 to lay their heads. A national 501(c)(3) was formed and the rest, as they say, is history. Corporate sponsors were found, volunteers were solicited, the construction process was established, and application guidelines were developed. Sleep In Heavenly Peace (SIHP) was off and running with its motto…No kid sleeps on the floor in our town®.
John Cousins, a Tallahassee resident, learned of the organization and established the SIHP Tallahassee Chapter in 2018. The chapter serves the Big Bend area and meets two Saturdays a month for “Build Day” during which 9 to 12 beds (accommodates 18 to 24 children – remember these are bunk beds) are constructed. The Build Day meetings are generally held in the parking lot of a corporate sponsor. The construction begins with raw lumber (no kits for SIHP!) which is measured, cut, sanded, drilled, screws/nails inserted, stained, and branded with the SIHP logo. All the finished components are logically organized so that the bunk beds can be readily assembled at the applicant’s home on a pre-arranged day.
Tallahassee Build Days usually have 25 to 45 volunteers, including staff from the corporate sponsor. The Build Day site is organized into 12 or 14 teams with each team responsible for a specific component of the construction process. Each team has a team leader who has to know the entire bunk bed construction process as he/she is not always the team leader for only one construction aspect. No babysitter, no problem – bring your child (over the age of 5) to a Tallahassee Build Day and introduce him/her to community service. One Saturday had two five-year olds who were put to work counting out 20 screws and placing them in a baggie, only to be repeated again and again!
SIHP Tallahassee connected with Sew For Hope in 2019 and SFH began sharing its hand-crafted quilts with SIHP as well as its original mission of quilts for children living at the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. SFH learned that Big Bend Homeless Coalition had an abundance of SFH quilts so it was decided SFH would concentrate on quilts approximately 45″ by 60″ for the Bunk Bed Project and to date has donated many, many quilts to SIHP. So many children are proud recipients of a hand-crafted bed and a hand-crafted quilt. Three of the SFH ladies are also members of the American Sewing Guild, Tallahassee Chapter and always share (i.e., show off) their quilts made for Sleep In Heavenly Peace.
A recent Saturday found ASG/SFH member Donna Dye, her husband Gary Sharpe, and their friend Vince Trimarco at a Build Day. The guys were actually put to work on one of the construction teams while Donna spoke with two SIHP members about the organization and the building process. Speaking as Donna…I was extremely impressed with the number of volunteers, the orderliness of the build process, the dedication of people, the volunteers knew what to do and never slowed down the 1 1/2 hours I was there. WOW, I was impressed!! Several SIHP workers told me the children are overwhelmed with the gift of a bed and linens, they are overcome with joy, some children and their parent shed tears of joy at the gifts. When her grandchild received his quilt, a grandmother cried about the “labor of love by some lady.”
How can you help, you ask? Well, make quilt(s) to donate, make a monetary donation to SIHP, go to a Build Day, purchase readymade twin size bed linens/pillows/bed coverings. Visit the Sleep In Heavenly Peace website www.SHPbeds.org or contact John Cousins, Tallahassee SIHP president at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about volunteering and Tallahassee’s specific needs.