Building Beds, Building Community: Manchester Community College students roll up their sleeves

The goal: Building 30 beds for local children that would have otherwise gone without.

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It was a day of building community after a year-long hiatus due to COVID-19. Photo/Alec Biron

MANCHESTER, NH – After a challenging year of separation for students and staff at Manchester Community College (MCC), student senate leaders and staff came together in support of children in need. On Saturday, April 24, MCC partnered with the Hillsborough Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) to put on an event dubbed Building Beds, Building Community, with a goal of building 30 beds for local children that would have otherwise gone without.

For MCC President Brian Bicknell, the opportunity to see students coming together after the long hiatus in support of the cause has given him a feeling of tremendous pride.

Building 30 beds for kids in our community was the goal of the day-long event at MCC. Photo/Alec Biron

“This is a great event today. For many of the people here, we haven’t been together as a community in over a year because of COVID. To have an event like this, where we’re all together again finally for a cause where we’re building beds for kids that need them, is just so inspiring and a great way to come back together as a community. But actually, this is a student-driven event. Students came together and said, ‘let’s do this’, and we had some students that didn’t have beds themselves when growing up and know how important it is to have a bed,” Bricknell said. “We’re building beds today, we did this a year ago, and we’re going to do it every year to keep this going. The idea that there are kids that didn’t have a bed to sleep in last night, that will tonight, is incredibly inspiring.”

MCC Senate hosted other charitable activities along with the SHP build: one station was dedicated to sorting clothing for the Pass-Along Project which provides clothing bundles for kids entering foster care. A no-sew blanket assembly was coordinated by the MCC student nurses Association and provided a quick way to piece together warm layers to accompany the beds. A non-perishable food drive was orchestrated along with the various charities. The student group worked to raise $5,250 to build 30 beds ($175/per bed cost.) Each donation of $350 sponsors a bunk bed complete with two new mattresses, sheets, comforters, pillows and mattress pads.

In addition to the MCC students, two students from Spark Academy charter school in Manchester also joined the project. Part of Spark

“Spark Academy’s mission is to give its students real-world experiences and help them understand the value of hard work, so the opportunity to build things together as a service project for other members of the community is most welcome. The event also gives members of both schools a chance to do something together,” said Jennifer Larochelle, the academy’s Operations Director.

Spark Academy students Caden Qualey, left, and John Larochelle work at the sanding station. Courtesy Photo

Students from the graphic design program worked to build this year’s T-shirt for the event and food trucks were set up to help make for a productive but fun outdoor environment for the day. The building of each bed was broken down between different tables for portions of cutting and assembly. 

MCC students participate in the Pass-Along Project, providing clothing for kids in foster care. Photo/Alec Biron

Ellen Flanagan, Vice President of the Student Senate and Aileen Clay, Director of Student Life, explained the importance of not only each station at the event, but also of the ability to bring students back together in a meaningful way.

“Our student’s really rallied. The cause really excited them and they were eager to build. So this year, with us being mostly virtual, our senate wanted to get back to the community and do the project again, and they also included the element of ‘let’s get our community back together’ because they were missing that relationship part and sense of connectedness.” Clay said.

About Manchester Community College

Manchester Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, and offers more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs for transfer and career training. Associate degree programs include allied health, automotive technologies, business studies, computer science, education, electrical technology, HVAC, liberal arts and welding. MCC also offers professional and workforce development, and customized corporate training. For more information, visit