Sweet dreams

A Florida club gives children the gift of peaceful sleep.

Do you remember what it felt like, as a child, to be tucked into your cozy bed every night? Did you feel safe? Warm? Happy?

Now imagine being a child who didn’t have a bed to sleep in. What if your bed had been a couch? What if it had been the floor every single night? 

Unfortunately, that’s the reality for thousands of children across the United States. 

In October 2021, the Kiwanis Club of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, partnered up on Kiwanis One Day with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to building, assembling and delivering bunk beds to children and families in need. Joined by members of the Niceville High School Key Club, the Walton Beach Kiwanians and SHP prepared all the parts needed to build 20 beds. 

“All children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads,” says Ruth Sykes, president of the Fort Walton Beach club. “Across the U.S., too many boys and girls go without a bed — or even a pillow — to sleep on. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets and even floors. This can affect their happiness and health. Child ‘bedlessness’ may not be a real word, but it is a real problem.”  

In the fall of 2019, Pastor Mickey Hawkins of Cinco Baptist Church started the Fort Walton Beach chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace to serve children in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties in Florida. As soon as Matt Dixon, then the president as Matt Dixon, then president of the Fort Walton Beach Kiwanis Club, learned about Sleep in Heavenly Peace, he wanted to be involved. His fellow club members agreed, and the relationship between the two organizations blossomed. 

“A bed, a place to lay your head at night, is something that most of us take for granted,” Sykes says. “Each time SHP does a bed delivery, it helps to remind us how truly blessed we are each and every day. The Kiwanis Club of Fort Walton Beach members are doing something tangible and worthwhile for kids in our community and will be making bed building one of our continuing service projects.”

This story originally appeared in the June/July 2022 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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