Alaskans build beds for children in need

John Holwege, right, and Cort McCotter of Palmer construct a bunk bed that will go to Alaskan children in need.

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Electric saws and sanders whirred at a warehouse in Palmer on Saturday, as volunteers built bunk beds for Alaskan children without a bed to sleep in.

“No kid sleeps on the floor in our town" was written across the back of the shirts that John Holwege and Cort McCotter wore as they worked. The two friends started the South Central Alaska Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a national non-profit delivering bunk beds to families in need. They are both fathers.

“I was just thinking to myself, ‘Man, I can’t imagine if they didn’t have a bed and had to sleep on the floor,’” Holwege said, remembering back to Feb. 2018 when he first learned about SHP. “I just couldn’t imagine that being the only option for them. I can’t really imagine it being the only option for other kids in our community.”

McCotter says he met a lot of people who could have used this program while he was growing up in Alaska.

“I know it’s a real thing,” McCotter said. “There’s a lot of friends that you see with obvious needs as you’re going through the school system.”

Holwege and McCotter signed up for SHP, received training on how to build the bunk beds, and recruited other volunteers to their cause. McCotter’s stepdaughter, 18-year-old Ashlynn Noethlich, was one of those recruits.

“You don’t really know that there’s a lot of kids without beds until people tell you,” Noetlich said. “I think people grow up with a lot more than they realize, and doing stuff like this helps you realize just how fortunate you are.”

Holwege says the ten beds they built on Saturday will eventually go to children between the ages of 3 and 17 who don’t have a suitable bed to sleep on. Their goal is to deliver beds across the entire state.

Holwege says they should be an active chapter, able to accept donations, within the next month. He says $.90 of every dollar will go towards building beds in Alaska.

Once active, anyone who might qualify for the program can submit a request to SHP. If approved, they’ll deliver the bed straight to the applicant. “When we leave the house that day, the bed’s ready to be slept in,” Holwege said.

Click here to donate to SHP.

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