Five-year-old Tyler Sliz of Libertyville, Illinois had an unusual request for his fifth birthday: bedding. Not a toy car, fancy sneakers, or new books. He wanted blankets, pillows, and sheets.
Why? So he could donate the items to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization that builds and delivers beds to children in need. According to its website, Sleep in Heavenly Peace has 183 chapters in 44 states and three countries.
Family and friends obliged Tyler’s request, arriving to the party with bags of bedding and money to be used for purchasing additional bedding.
“He told all of the guests that if they brought anything else, he wouldn’t play with it,” Tyler’s mom, Jackie, told CNN.
Tyler initially wanted to help build beds for the organization, but he’s too young.
“He really likes carpentry work and working on projects with his dad,” Jackie said. “But to build the beds, you have to be 12 years old.”
What started out as a birthday request has grown. Illinois Rep. Mary Edly-Allen gave Tyler a check for his cause, says Tyler’s dad Brad. Since Tyler’s birthday, he has helped donate 125 pieces of bedding to Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
And he’s just getting started. Tyler’s enthusiasm and encouragement led his entire family to participate in a build-a-bed day.
“Jackie and I got to sand down a bunch of raw lumber. Tyler helped assemble the bolt bags with his grandparents and his great-grandmother. That was fun,” Brad said.
“The one place kids go for refuge is their bed,” Dan Harris, co-president of Sleep in Heavenly Peace said. “Parents have to sometimes choose between having food on their table or heating their homes or a having a bed. So we make it easier for children to have a bed and we give the child something of their own.”
“[Tyler] is just a ray of joy,” added Harris. “Everybody in the chapter loves hearing about Tyler and seeing him drop off the bedding.”