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Helping the Homeless – Crochet a Plastic Sleeping Mat

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Reaching out to homeless members of our society is an action that many want to do in their hearts, but are not sure how to carry out.

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I recently enjoyed an enlightening conversation with volunteers who are involved in a project that is simple,  yet awesome! It is easy, there is no financial cost and is something that almost everyone can learn and do.

Homeless people are now sleeping on mats that are being made by volunteers. They are made out of plastic store bags, the ones you get at all the grocery and department stores where you shop so there is no cost for materials.

The process requires folding the bags in half, then in half again. Next the sealed bottom end is cut off, and then the end with the handles at the top. These scraps can be saved and taken to a recycling center. The bags are then cut into strips by cutting on the folds.

The way that the bags are cut leaves them with a loop at each end. The strips are easy to link together simply by slipping them through each other. As the strip becomes a chain, it is wound it into a ball that resembles a large ball of yarn.

Yep, it is used as “yarn” to crochet!  Most like a size J or even an N size of crochet hook, but since each person has a slightly different crocheting style, choose the hook that allows you to create a fairly tight piece.

Using a single crochet stitch, make the mat in rows that are at least three to four feet wide. Just keep going until the mat is six to six and one half feet long. Remember that a person will be sleeping on this.

When the mat is completed, two chains are crocheted on the top end and are used as ties when the mat is rolled up. At the bottom end, other chains are added and attached at each corner to act as a strap to sling over the shoulder so that the mat can be easily carried.

This is not my idea, nor the idea of the people who told me about it. They told me to look on the internet and there I found several Youtube videos done by various volunteer groups that demonstrate the project from start to finish.

I tried but could not discover whose original idea this was. It has been picked up by many volunteer organizations, and can be done by youth groups or seniors.

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If you are looking for a fun, but rewarding project, this is it! It would be a good idea to find an organization who can distribute the mats before beginning this project, such as The Salvation Army. Then just get started.

These mats will keep a homeless person off the cold and wet ground, will not absorb water and will last for a long time. They are also light to carry!  Lastly, it is keeping all those bags out of landfills!

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