How an Oceanside couple is working to make sure San Diego County kids sleep better at night

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A good night’s sleep is important for your health — but not every child can get one.

Steve and Marie Hoveln wanted to change that. So this summer, the Oceanside couple Steve and Marie Hoveln founded a San Diego County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children in need.

According to the nonprofit, 2 to 3 percent of children in the U.S. don’t have beds. Believing that a bed is essential for a child’s well-being, the Hovelns are bringing together volunteers to build bunk beds and single twin beds that will be donated locally.

The Hovelns say they have always been involved in their community, but while looking for something new to get involved in after pandemic restrictions were relaxed, they decided to found the first local chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

Marie Hoveln has worked in the Vista Unified School District and said she had heard firsthand of a local need for beds. Steve Hoveln said the couple thought, “Maybe we can do it.”

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“We felt that we know a lot of really good people, and if we can just encourage their volunteerism … we think it could work,” he said.

Before they knew it, the couple had gathered a group of interested volunteers and were on their way toward creating their own chapter.

“It’s very exciting because, honestly, it’s been a very easy sell,” Steve Hoveln said. “When you tell people about the program … helping kids, they’re in.”

The chapter will kick off with a grand opening build of five bunk beds on Saturday, Aug. 27, at North Coast Church in Vista.

The chapter will also join others across the country in hosting a Bunks Across America build day — the largest annual bed-building event in a single day, according to the nonprofit — on Sept. 10 at North Coast Church. Sleep in Heavenly Peace handles everything from mattresses and bedding to delivery and assembly.

The projects help to build not only beds but also a sense of community, Steve Hoveln said, as each person works to turn a pile of lumber into a bed that could improve a child’s life.

“If they can sleep better at night and sleep safe, they’re going to do better in school … and it sets them up for success throughout their lifetime,” added Marie Hoveln.

For now, the chapter will serve the Oceanside and Vista areas, but the Hovelns hope to expand to other areas of North County soon.

Anyone in need of a bed or interested in volunteering can apply on the chapter’s website at shpbeds.org/chapter/ca-san-diego-n.