Leadership class builds bunk beds for kids in need

The St. John LaLande Leadership students sanded, drilled holes for bolts and screws and stained wood before assmbling bunk beds for children without beds. (Marty Denzer/Key photos)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

LEE’S SUMMIT — It was a chilly morning with a downright cold breeze blowing off Lake Jacomo, over the Lee’s Summit Rotary Club Youth Camp. The camp’s dining hall was filled with the sounds of drill punches, the scritch of electric sanders on wood, voices asking questions and giving instructions, and warming, happy laughter.

The seventh grade Leadership Class of St. John LaLande School, accompanied by about 20 volunteers and parents, teachers, representatives of the parish Knights of Columbus Council and the school principal, was in the midst of building 10 bunk beds intended for local kids who didn’t have a bed.

St. John LaLande’s principal, Ann Wright, walked back and forth across the work area, encouraging students, applauding efforts and explaining how this project came to be.

Eighteen St. John LaLande seventh graders meet weekly for Leadership Class, she said, where they learn about the qualities and characteristics of “servant leadership.”

Wright continued, “They’ve covered a variety of topics including conflict resolution, the DISC personality assessment — a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, centering on four different personality traits, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness — and effective presentation.” 

The class set several goals, including to develop a service project that would meet the needs of people in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Mrs. Kim Norris, mom of one of the leadership students, reached out to the national non-profit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which has several local chapters that build beds for children throughout Jackson County.

Hundreds of kids in the Kansas City area sleep on the floor, on air mattresses or on couches because they don’t have a bed. In order for a child in Jackson County to be able to live with a relative they have to have a bed, or they often end up in foster care. On their website, Sleep in Heavenly Peace states that ‘No child sleeps on the floor in our town!’

After learning more about the charity and the work they do, the leadership students wrote letters soliciting donations to help raise the $1,500 necessary for the 10 bed project. Support came from St. Mary’s Hospital and Centerpoint Medical Center, enabling the students to garner almost $1,000 in donations. Additionally, a local cabinet maker and his suppliers donated the lumber for bed project.

The students who gathered at the Rotary Camp on Dec. 6 sanded, operated a drill press, and assembled 10 beds for delivery by Sleep in Heavenly Peace to needy families throughout the Kansas City area.

Michaela, one of the students, said the sanding was easy, but the drill press was “kind of scary.” She has helped build things at home, so she felt accustomed to it, and found the whole experience “pretty fun.”

When asked about homelessness in Kansas City, the seventh grader said, “It’s crazy how many homeless people there are all over. I want to go to nursing school so I can help the homeless. I’ll give them some food to fatten them up, and a smile to help them feel welcome and accepted. I’m glad some children without beds are going to have a bed to sleep in now.”

A debriefing was held after the build for the students to discuss the project and write personal thank you notes to the volunteers who helped with the project.

Wright said, “As the principal I am so proud of these students. They are learning about what it means to be a “servant leader.” God has given them so much and this is just one way they can help give back for the many gifts they’ve enjoyed, including the gift of a Catholic education. Thanks to these leadership students, 10 – 20 children in the Kansas City area will be able to sleep in a ‘real bed’ this holiday season!”

According to a Dec. 10 post on the Sleep in Heavenly Peace Facebook page, 80 more kids in the metro now have a soft, warm place to sleep, their own bunk bed. And 10 of those bunk beds were sanded, assembled and stained by 18 St. John LaLande students.

The St. John LaLande Leadership students sanded, drilled holes for bolts and screws and stained wood before assmbling bunk beds for children without beds. (Marty Denzer/Key photos)


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October 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph