Fifty kids in Manitoba will be getting a better sleep at night thanks to a special event at Blue Cross Park this week.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, Manitoba Blue Cross has collaborated with the non-profit organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace to construct 50 beds for children in need throughout the Winnipeg area. This initiative addresses the pressing issue of children lacking proper sleeping arrangements.

"Celebrating our 50th year is not just about looking back at our history, but looking forward to how we can continue to contribute positively to the health and well-being of all Manitobans," said Benjamin Graham, president and CEO of Manitoba Blue Cross. He highlighted the significant impact a good night's sleep can have on a child's mental and physical health, reiterating the organization's commitment to supporting local children.

A man bends over and attaches a metal bracket to a piece of wood while a woman kneels on the ground beside the furniture.Sleep In Heavenly Peace began in a garage in the USA with a simple desire to help kids in need get a comfortable sleep. The charity has since expanded into Canada. (Emily Wood)

Dozens of volunteers showed up at Blue Cross Park on Friday, June 14, to assemble the beds. Blue Cross says the project is consistent with its community-focused mission, which has been a cornerstone of the not-for-profit organization since its establishment.

Jim Thiessen, president of the local chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, emphasized the critical need for such initiatives. "All children deserve a safe, comfortable bed of their own," he said. "With almost 500 children still on our wait list, the need is immense. Thanks to the support from Manitoba Blue Cross and the community, we are making significant strides toward that goal."

A woman wearing a backwards ball cap uses a drill to assemble a wooden bed frame while a man supports pieces in the backgroundThe assembled beds will be distributed to kids in need in the Winnipeg region. (Emily Wood)

In conjunction with the bed-building effort, Manitoba Blue Cross is conducting a bedding drive, encouraging community members to donate new, twin-sized bedding items such as comforters, pillows, and sheet sets. Donations can be made until June 18 and dropped off weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at Manitoba Blue Cross's headquarters at 599 Empress Street in Winnipeg.

This initiative reflects Manitoba Blue Cross's ongoing dedication to enhancing the well-being of Manitobans, extending their commitment beyond traditional healthcare services. The organization’s efforts aim to make tangible improvements in the daily lives of children within the community, addressing both immediate and long-term health needs.

A large group of people pose for a photo in front of a baseball stadiumVolunteers with Manitoba Blue Cross and Sleep In Heavenly Peace pose for a group photo in front of Blue Cross Park on Friday, June 14, 2024. (Emily Wood)