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Man Gives Up High-Paying Job To Build Beds For Poor Kids Who Sleep On The Floor

Man Gives Up High-Paying Job To Build Beds For Poor Kids Who Sleep On The Floor

Idaho resident Luke Mickelson saw a little girl sleeping in a nest of clothes on the floor and that is when everything changed.

Most of our lives are a blur of many things that keep happening. But within this chaos, most of us have a few moments that stop us in our tracks, which re-define our lives in some way. Something similar happened to 41-year-old Luke Mickelson. Born and raised in Idaho, Mickelson coached his kids' sports teams and fished in the nearby river. But one day in 2012,  when he saw this little girl sleeping on a pile of clothes, his life changed forever.

"This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird's nest. And that's what she slept on, that's what her bed was," Mickelson said. This inspired him and his family to build and donate a bunk bed. "When we delivered the bed, she hugged it and just couldn't let go." But he was shocked to find out that this wasn't a one-off situation, that there were many local children who slept on the floor, reported CNN.



 

He said, "It was such an eye-opener to me. I sat there in silence thinking, 'Is that really what's going on?'" He added, "I had no clue about what the need was. There are 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." 

Keeping in mind safety guidelines, Mickelson started buying wood and other things to build beds for the children using his daughter's bunk as a template. He would call his family and friends to help around the holidays. As word spread, others also started volunteering to help him out in the effort. With that, the number of beds produced also increased. Mickelson said, "That first project, we built 11 bunk beds in my garage. The next year, we did 15. Then it doubled every year. In 2017, we built 612 bunk beds."

For the high school quarterback-turned-family-man, there was no looking back from here on. To scale up the production, Mickelson founded a formal charity — Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds and delivers beds to children in need. The charity includes training courses, construction manuals, and local chapters so communities from coast to coast could join the movement. 



 

When asked who were the beneficiaries of this charity, Mickelson elaborated that these children weren't in "this situation because of their choices." They were children from "single parents escaping an abusive situation", from "foster care situations, where parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters are trying to help", families who were homeless but are trying to get back on their feet. The heart-wrenching reality of their lives, Mickelson said that "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."

The non-profit's motto is "No kid sleeps on the floor in our town," and they have more than 65 chapters across America. Collectively, they have built and delivered more than 1,500 free beds to children. But such rapid growth doesn't come without tough choices. Mickelson was at a crossroad between advancing his career or his nonprofit, and he chose the latter. He quit a job he worked at for 18 years. He said, "I found that the need I have isn't financial. The need I have is seeing the joy on kids' faces, knowing that I can make a difference."

He added, "It just came to a point where I could see that my passion really is helping these kids. 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." He said he is grateful to have another company to offer him a job. Such was his passion that despite a huge pay cut, he took the job because they were very understanding of his dream.

When asked about how the kids received their new beds, he said, "You walk in and these kids are just so excited. 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." He added that the endeavor is to "make sure that they(the child) understand that, 'This is your bed. This is yours. This is a possession of yours,' you know?" He continued, "They learn how to take care of things. They learn value. They get confidence -- and they get a good night's sleep."

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