During Thanksgiving week, The Meridian Star is featuring volunteers in the community. This is one of a series.
JW Eakes summed up Saturday, Nov. 16 with one simple, insightful phrase:
“Nobody’s arguing,” the 8-year-old said while taking a break from a hard day’s work at Northcrest Baptist Church in Meridian.
Outside, in the church’s parking lot, the young boy’s older sister, 14-year-old Presleigh Eakes, and their father, Bubba Eakes were busy sawing pieces of wood.
Nearby, dozens of Sleep in Heavenly Peace volunteers stood sanding and staining, intently focused on a common mission:
No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.
At the end of the day, 16 bunk beds were ready to be delivered to children in need, according to Laura Hester, who helps coordinate local Sleep in Heavenly Peace efforts with her husband, Miles and their friends, Chandler and Jamie Castle.
Miles Hester and Chandler Castle serve as co-presidents of the chapter.
The national non-profit has branches in 47 states, and the Meridian branch is the first one in Mississippi, Laura Hester said.
Its mission is twofold, she said: to meet a community need not being met, while bringing people together to meet that need.
“We wanted something that would be useful for our community,” Hester said. “And, also, where the community could come together to fulfill that need.”
A critical need
Getting a good night’s sleep can be life-changing, especially for children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, kids who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.
“Plus, there’s a sense of love and security that comes with having a bed to sleep in,” Hester said. “There’s something special about having something of your very own that some kids just don’t have.”
Looking ahead, organizers hope to see other Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapters sprout across the state.
And Hester sees the groups’ charitable work inspiring people around Meridian to help others in need.
“We hope this will spawn other types of projects, that it will be just the beginning,” she said.