Illinois Kiwanis Clubs team up to make beds for children.
Story by Wendy Rose Gould
It’s easy to take our most basic possessions for granted: running water, a refrigerator full of food, a bed to tuck into at night. Kiwanians in Quincy, Illinois, made it their mission to help local children with the latter and, in conjunction with U.S. nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, built 56 beds for children in late September.
“What better way to serve the children of the world than to provide them with a bed? And our area has a strong need, so it seemed the right thing to do,” says Joanne Dedert, immediate past president of the Quincy Kiwanis Club.
The Quincy club pioneered the initiative, which served as both a Kiwanis One Day and Centennial Service project. Members worked closely with the Quincy, Gem City and the Quincy-Golden K clubs (both of which were started by the Quincy club). The Kiwanians also involved their sponsored Service Leadership Program clubs, including Key Club, CKI, Builders Club and Aktion Club.
“It was important for us to involve these young members of our SLP clubs because we wanted to show them that this is what Kiwanis does,” says Brad Essington, president of the Quincy Kiwanis Club, “and that helping kids in need is what we’re all about.”
Together, the clubs raised just over US$10,000 for Sleep in Heavenly Peace to purchase raw materials, and they used a fellow Kiwanian’s large shop to partially assemble the beds. It was a well-oiled machine with stations for sanding, assembling and loading, and the resulting 56 beds surpassed the original goal. The half-built beds then were taken to area homes in need and fully assembled.
“We had some Kiwanians who were able to help with that aspect,” says Essington. “One of those members reported back to the club, saying how humbling it was to go into these homes and to see the smile on these kids’ faces, knowing they would have a real bed instead of a pillow or a mattress on the floor. The kids were trying to sit on the beds before they were assembled. That’s how excited they were.”
This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Kiwanis magazine.