Sleep in Heavenly Peace provides beds to children in need of a safe place to sleep.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a non-profit based in Twin Falls, Idaho, provides children in need of a bed with a safe and secure place to sleep.

The organization has active Iowa chapters in Delaware, Jones and Linn counties, along with the Des Moines area. Now, after providing beds to children throughout the county and surrounding communities, the Delaware County chapter is looking to expand its footprint to include the Dyersville and Worthington areas.

Things got started in 2019 when Hopkinton resident Keith Kramer was looking for a way to support local communities.

“I wanted a project in Delaware County. I saw this article in the church bulletin about Sleep in Heavenly Peace and I kept thinking, ’That’s really neat,’ and when I looked at it and realized the work that’s going to be involved in this thing, I dropped it for a couple months,” said Kramer, who serves as president of the Delaware County chapter. “But it just kept coming back to me. There are kids without a bed, so I decided to pursue it. I met with the Jones County chapter, there’s one in Linn County and one down by Des Moines.”

Anyone familiar with Kramer knows that once he gets involved in a project, things are going to get done.

“This is a national group based in Twin Falls, Idaho. So, Lynn Chesnut and I went out for training back in January of 2020,” Kramer said. “Then we came back and had to build beds and built our first beds Feb. 29, 2020, but about that time COVID shut just about everything down.”

While the pandemic briefly slowed the organization’s mission, the work continued behind the scenes.

“We continued to raise money, get tools and get everything set up. We really started to deliver beds in July of 2020. Since then we’ve delivered 145 beds, mostly in the Delaware County area,” said Kramer. “I take care of everything but making the beds. I do the marketing, I take care of the finances — everything goes to Idaho and they pay me the amount I need for my budget each month. A bed is $250 apiece.”

Now that SHP has established itself in and around Delaware County, expansion is a natural next step.

“When we have the resources to do this — we have 100 quilts, 100 sets of bedding, 75-100 pillows and the resources to do this — the natural would be to pick up Dyersville and Worthington,” Kramer explained.

“This is all done by zip code. When people apply to SHP online, if the zip code is one that I take care of, that application comes directly to me. I have all the Delaware County zip codes and have delivered beds to Strawberry Point, Winthrop and Quasqueton.”

It takes donations to the cause and plenty of volunteers to make an organization like SHP work.

“What we find is that once people become aware of what we’re doing, they want to know how they can help,” said Kramer. “We have the resources now with quilts and beds and everything, so it’s a matter of money to do it and letting people know that if they want to drop off a set of sheets or something it’s fine. We get our mattresses in Indiana and recently went over and picked up 54 of them. Churches in Manchester, Ryan, Coggon, Delhi and Dyersville make our quilts. Money is the thing we can always use.”

“We did a bed build in Delaware three weeks ago and had 40 people show up. I did one in Ryan two months ago and had 60 people show up,” Kramer added. “We limit each bed build to 3 1/2 hours. Lynn coordinates building the beds. When we want to deliver beds, I have a team of about 10 people and we meet. Nobody knows where we’re going, and we recently delivered and put together four beds in 24 minutes.”

Something as basic as sleeping in one’s own bed pays big dividends for children in need, according to Kramer.

“Three percent of our population is kids without beds. They don’t have their own beds. It might be a couch or it might be a mattress on the floor. The idea is to get them in their own bed,” he said. “When kids have their own bed, first of all, they sleep better. Secondly, it’s a secure place for them. We find they sleep better, they study better and things change in their lives because of this. There are a lot of charities out there, but a bed is a lifetime.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace in the Delaware County, Dyersville or Worthington areas can visit the organization’s web page at: SHPbeds.org.

“Our focus is so simple — get the kids off the floor,” said Kramer. “Normally this is word of mouth. The majority of times, it’s the mother who contacts us. The maternal instinct kicks in.”

“I can’t change the world — it’s never been my goal — but if I can make a difference for one or two it’s OK in my life.”