building beds and changing lives

We believe everyone has the right to a good night’s sleep. That’s why Dufresne has partnered with a local charity to provide comfortable beds to kids in need in our community. This year, as the major mattress sponsor for Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) Winnipeg, we are helping to give the gift of sleep to 140 kids by donating new mattresses through our Dream Big program.

Dream Big is made possible by individuals and organizations, including you, our guests. For every mattress purchased from us, a portion goes towards buying new mattress for people in need. To date, we have donated over 600 mattresses in 12 communities, representing a retail value of $216,000.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Jim Thiessen, is a former City of Winnipeg police officer who saw too many kids without beds in his time on the force. Visiting homes in the community, he would see kids sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, or on piles of laundry or blankets. As a father, it broke his heart.

After retiring from the police force, Jim decided to help by founding the Winnipeg chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a Canadian charity associated with the U.S.-based organization of the same name. The non-profit, volunteer-driven organization has chapters spread across Canada, providing beds, mattresses, and bedding to kids who are sleeping on the floor.

What makes SHP extra-special is all the beds that they deliver are built by hand with donated supplies and volunteer labour. It’s a lot of hard work, but for chapter president Jim and his partner/chapter vice-president, Bonnie Emerson, the reward that comes from seeing the kids receive their beds is immeasurable.

Building Beds

Several weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday morning, an enthusiastic team of Dufresne employees joined forces with SHP’s dedicated volunteers to turn the parking lot of our Ellice Avenue store into a pop-up bed factory at our first-ever SHP bed build event. For everyone involved, it was a morning filled with sawdust, stain, and, most of all, fun.

After a brief introduction, we were assigned to our stations and put to work with the goal of building 20 beds. Soon, the sound of power tools and chatter filled the air as the team quickly fell into the rhythm of sanding, drilling, fastening, and staining. For those of us who attended, it was fascinating to see how well thought out the whole process is and how each step is just as important as the next.

Halfway through the build, during a much-deserved donut break, we heard from Jim and Bonnie who shared their stories and learned about the kids who would be receiving two of the beds from the day’s build. Knowing a little more about the kids we were helping (and would be meeting later) seemed to make the rest of the morning go even faster.

Before we knew it, the pile of raw lumber was gone and there was a neatly organized stack of completed headboards, footboards, and rails at the other side of the parking lot, stained and looking amazing. In total, we had completed the components for 23 beds, which was three more than we had set out to build.

Changing Lives

Of the 23 beds built that day, 21 were loaded into the SHP trailer for delivery the following week. The remaining two, however, were going to be delivered that day to the two kids we had been told about earlier—a 5-year old boy and an 11-year old girl who didn't have beds of their own.

With the work site packed-up, a small delivery/installation team was assembled, the beds and mattresses were carefully placed in a big, white Dufresne truck, and we set off on our very special deliveries.

At our first stop, Jim led us through the process of attaching the side rails to the headboard and footboard, placing the slats, and setting the mattress in place. The genius of the SHP bed design is that it can be flipped to make either a tall bed for an older child or a low bed for a younger child. Or, two beds can be stacked and attached to make a sturdy bunk bed.

Once the bed was assembled, we got to make it up with fresh sheets and, by request, a very special Paw Patrol comforter. We couldn’t wait to see the reaction of the bed's excited little owner, so we had his mom bring him upstairs to his bedroom for the big reveal. Needless to say, it was a HUGE hit, and he was still happily bouncing on his new bed as we left for our next stop.

We followed the delivery truck to a cute, tree-lined street where we met our second recipient, a soft-spoken 11-year old girl. While half the team worked inside to get the frame put together, the rest of us helped her choose from two sets of purple bedding for her new bed. Bonnie told us that she always tries her best to accommodate requests for colours or character bedding, as it helps make the kids feel extra-special when they get their new bed.

With the preferred purple bedding in place, it was time for another exciting reveal. Again, it was a huge success, albeit with less bouncing on the mattress. The bed’s new owner was in awe of her new bed was and how comfortable the mattress was. Until just a few days prior to our visit, she had been sleeping on an air mattress until it sprung a leak. So, not only was this a welcome gift, but it also couldn’t have come at a better time.

The day left us with a little sawdust in our hair and huge smiles on our faces. And, yes, Jim and Bonnie were right—seeing the kids' eyes light up when they see their new bed was something that we'll never forget.

Want to Learn More?

For more information, including how to donate, volunteer at an upcoming build, or request a bed, please visit Sleep in Heavenly Peace Winnipeg or follow their Facebook page. Outside of Winnipeg? You can find your local chapter here.

To learn more about the work we are doing to make lives better for kids and adults in the communities where we do business, including our Dream Big initiative, visit In Our Community.