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Local group provides beds to children in need

Volunteers are joining together in central New York to make sure local children have a safe place to sleep at night. The group Sleep in Heavenly Peace just provided its 2000th bed to kids in our area.

Jon Wright helped found the local chapter in 2018 and has been overwhelmed by what these beds mean to the children who receive them.

"The first piece of real estate that a child owns is their own bed,” said Wright. “It's the first place that really they identify as being a space that's all theirs, and I think that gives a child an identity. That gives a child a sense of being and purpose."

We joined volunteers on a snowy Saturday during their "12 Deliveries of Christmas" campaign to drop off four beds to the Ibrahimi family.

The Ibrahimis left Afghanistan four months ago and stayed in camps until arriving in Syracuse in mid-December.

Feda and Soma Ibrahimi spoke to us through a translator about evacuating Afghanistan with their children.

“It was a very bad situation back in Afghanistan,” said Feda Ibrahimi. “There was fighting when we were going to the airport, so they were fighting in back of us and in front of us.”

Soma and her children expressed gratitude for the new beds and the warm welcome they have received in Syracuse.

The Ibrahimi kids helped volunteers put together the beds before enthusiastically adding bedding and trying the beds out.

Volunteers Kyle and Kathy Dolbear said it’s that joy that keeps them coming back.

"We had one delivery we did where the blanket looked like a slice of pizza, and the kid was just thrilled to death,” said Kyle Dolbear. “He just wore it around like a cape the whole time. It was just like 'this is mine!'"

"I was hooked because it's just such a great service, and the kids are so appreciative," said Kathy Dolbear.

However, Wright said some visits can be heartbreaking, like when a young girl asked if she could keep the plastic bag her bedding came in.

“My wife said, 'Sure, honey' just kind of an offhand comment, and she said 'What do you need it for? What do you want it for?' said Wright. “And she said 'I want to use it as my dresser.' There was nothing in this room except the bed that we had assembled, and to this day still it just causes me to just lose it because that's just wrong."

Wright estimates the group’s work has only scratched the surface, with thousands of local children still sleeping in substandard conditions.

Wright said Sleep in Heavenly Peace depends on the community for support. Donations of new twin bedding are always welcome, especially mattress pads or bedding for young boys. The organization can also use volunteers to build or deliver beds or corporate sponsors for builds. More information can be found on their website.

Updated: June 10, 2022 at 3:02 PM EDT
This news story won a New York State Broadcasters 2022 Excellence in Broadcasting Award for "Outstanding Feature" (Small Market Radio).