How well do you know your own hometown?

That may have been the biggest underlying question that emanated from a story in Tuesday’s Press & Dakotan about a generous local action that meets a local need that few people likely knew or dreamed existed locally.

The story profiled the work of a group called Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), which spent part of last Saturday at Yankton High School’s CMTEA/RTEC facility constructing beds to be distributed to local kids who otherwise don’t have beds to call their own. The group’s motto is simple and, when you ponder it, stark: “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.”

Since the fall of 2020, SHP has distributed 130 such beds to kids in Yankton.

“Believe me, going into these homes and seeing the children, they are really needing those beds,” former Optimist Club President Mary Milroy, who is part of the local effort, told the P&D. “We’re not there to upgrade (old) beds, but if a kid is sleeping on the floor, couch, on an air mattress, with a parent, anything like that, where they do not have a bed, automatically, they qualify.”

This isn’t a problem you might expect to see in Yankton, or in any other town or city where you live — a fact that Milroy noted. “‘Oh, my gosh, we have this in our community? This is a need?’ That’s the remark I’ve heard from many people,” she said.

It’s a reminder not only that we tend to overlook these issues that fall through the cracks, but also that modern communities generally have become quite adept at hiding their problems, such as homelessness and hunger. It’s not done out of unfeeling malevolence or indifference; rather, it’s simply a means of coping with some social issues.

On the other hand, this matter is also a reminder that there are usually organizations, civil groups and volunteers working to address these problems that are otherwise swept out of sight and out of mind.

The local SHP group got its idea from the Brookings SHP chapter, the members of which have their own stories of the needs within their community. The Brookings group has provided indispensable help to Yankton’s efforts.

Unfortunately, these efforts are needed.

And that need does give you another view of life in Yankton or Brookings or Sioux Falls or anywhere else where these issues exist.

We can be appreciative of the organizers and volunteers that work to address these needs that we didn’t realize were even there.

And realizing that the problem exists is usually the first, best step in the right direction.


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