Instead of wanting to get the hottest toys for his birthday, five-year-old Tyler Sliz from Libertyville, Illinois, had an unusual request for his party guests – that they bring pieces of bedding instead of gifts so that he could donate them to kids in homeless shelters.
Ahead of his birthday celebration this past October, the boy announced his request through a video.
“He told all of the guests that if they brought anything else, he wouldn’t play with it,” Tyler’s mother, Jackie, told CNN.
All the bedding will be donated to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization that helps build, assemble, and deliver bunk beds to families in need. Tyler was only 4 years old when he learned about the group through their church St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Granting the birthday boy’s wish, family and friends arrived at the party bringing bags of blankets, pillows, and sheets. Two guests gave Tyler money, which he used to buy more bedding.
Tyler originally wanted to get involved with Sleep in Heavenly Peace’s hands-on projects, but they learned that he was too young to do so.
“[Building beds] was something Tyler was wanting to do because 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.”
So instead, Tyler decided to help in other ways.
What started as a simple birthday request has evolved into a bigger project. Around the holidays, Tyler surpassed his goal of donating 100 bedding pieces to children in homeless shelters. This was made possible through all the donations he received from local businesses and from Illinois State Rep. Mary Edly-Allen, who gave Tyler a check which was used to buy more bedding.
Since then, Tyler has proudly donated a total of 125 pieces of bedding to the organization. He has no plans of stopping as more donations and checks continue to come in from the community, according to the boy’s dad, Brad.
Tyler’s generosity inspired their whole family to get involved by participating in a bed-building with Sleep in Heavenly Peace on November 3.
“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.
Dan Harris, the co-president of Sleep in Heavenly Peace’s St. Joseph/Libertyville chapter, shared how much he appreciates Tyler and what he has contributed to the organization at such a young age.
“[Tyler] is just a ray of joy,” he said. “Everybody in the chapter loves hearing about Tyler and seeing him drop off the bedding.”
According to its website, the organization has 183 chapters in 44 states and 3 countries. The Libertyville chapter is focused on providing beds to children aged 3 to 17 years who currently live in the Lake, McHenry, and Cook counties near Chicago.
“The one place kids go for refuge is their bed,” Dan 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’s next goal is simple yet impactful – to fill “my whole houseful” with more bedding to donate.
This boy’s level of generosity at such a young age is truly inspirational. Thank you for all that you’ve done, Tyler!
To learn more about this story, please watch the video below.