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Goal of group: Build every child in need a bed

The sweat-soaked blue “Sleep In Heavenly Peace” T-shirts worn by volunteers Saturday in Middletown said it best: “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town!”

For that goal to become a reality, more community bed builds — like the one held Saturday in downtown Middletown — will have to be organized.

Mike Watkins, a volunteer from the group, said the “need is there and it’s real” throughout Butler County.

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About 2 percent of people either sleep on a mattress on the floor, on a couch, or share a bed with a relative, he said. So by his math, of the 400,000 people who reside in Butler County, 8,000 aren’t sleeping on a bed with a box spring and mattress.

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Watkins said the group has delivered about 100 wooden beds in the area, including 18 after Middletown’s build. Even without advertising, except on Facebook, Watkins said the group has a waiting list of 200 beds.

A section of a wooden bed, held by volunteers Laura Stanton, of Lebanon, and Julie Ring, of West Chester, frames others who spent Saturday building 30 beds for Sleep In Heavenly Peace. (RICK McCRABB/STAFF)

There was an impressive assembly line Saturday in a grassy area behind the Pendleton Art Center. The volunteers were cutting and sanding pieces of wood, then assembling, staining and branding with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace logo.

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There were about 40 volunteers, including 12 men from Hope House, Middletown’s homeless shelter, Watkins said.

The bed builds are funded through donations from area businesses and organizations, including Kohl’s Cares, Lowe’s and River Church in Liberty Twp., according to Watkins. The group also received a $5,000 grant from the Middletown Community Foundation.

The cost of each bunk bed is $340, including materials, mattresses, bedding and insurance.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace has 99 chapters in 33 states, according to the group’s website.

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