Here’s an article from the Charleston Gazette about a church group in West Virginia that crochets plastic bags into sleeping mats for homeless people!
Here’s a quote I like from the article: “Once you learn one simple stitch, it’s easily done. Anyone can do it.” And as many people I’ve taught can attest, this is a true statement.
Read full article here.
June 2, 2010
By Veronica Nett
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Melissa Starcher had an overflow of plastic shopping bags in her kitchen, when she heard about a way to recycle the bags for the homeless.
Starcher, a Charleston attorney, was driving to work in November when she heard a story on the radio about a group with the Lutheran Church Charities in Minneapolis who were crocheting plastic bags into large sleeping mats to donate to local charities.
The idea stuck, and Starcher took it to her mother, who heads the Coopers Creek chapter of the Community Education Outreach Service, a program affiliated with the West Virginia University Extension Service and 4-H.
The group of 26 women jumped on the idea. For more than six months, they have been collecting and crocheting plastic bags into sleeping mats.
Last month, they brought 11 mats to the Union Mission in Charleston to be distributed to those in need. Starcher expects missions across the state to see an influx of the plastic mats in coming months.
The project has been selected as the statewide Community Education Outreach Service project for next year, Starcher said. Several church organizations and women’s groups have also picked up the idea, she said.
“It’s a great stress reliever,” Starcher said. “I can knit intricate things. When it comes to crochet, I basically make a bunch of knots. With this, it’s the same thing over and over. Once you learn one simple stitch, it’s easily done. Anyone can do it.”
While crocheting the mats is fairly easy, making them from scratch is an involved process, she said.
Each mat is made from up to about 400 to 700 bags, and it can take up to 100 hours to make an average 3-foot-by-6-foot mat, she said.
The women collect the plastic shopping bags, then cut them into strips that are looped together to create “plarn.”
“Walmart, Kroger and the Purple Onion, you can see them all in [a mat],” said Andrew Beckner, director of development at the Union Mission.
On Wednesday, Beckner and a pastor with the mission drove around Charleston as part of their daily outreach effort to touch base with the homeless in the city, and to pass out the mats.