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Charitable Crochet: Sleeping Mats for the Homeless

03 Jan

What?
While I’m sure everyone would like there to be no homelessness, the truth is that it exists and only so much can be done to fight this war on a daily basis. What we can do in between is to make life tolerable for those without. This is where the plan mats come into play.

The idea is simple – crochet plarn sleeping mats for the homeless.


Who?
A lot of groups are coming together making plarn sleeping mats their top priority project to ensure that while an individual is homeless or down on their luck, they have a sleeping mat they can call their own. Many of the groups I found online were church groups; however, I did find articles about established yarn groups and university students.

The best part of the “who” is that anyone can volunteer their time to this type of volunteer project.

Crocheters do the obvious – crochet.

Non-crocheters have a role in this type of group because they can spend their time organizing the bags by color, cutting the bags into strips, and joining the strips to make plarn.

Where?
It doesn’t take much to find out this is happening across the United States and in other countries.

Why?
Sadly, many cities have shelters but those shelters fill up quick. There are also cities and towns without shelters.

Mats made of cloth may be soft but they are not resistant to the rain and bugs. Plarn mats are water resistant, light, and somewhat soft. Plarn sleeping mats are also great for temperature control which means they can be used in all seasons.

The greatest benefit of this type of project is that it is helps two-fold: each mat prevents around 700-900 plastic bags from ending up in a landfill AND each mat lets someone out there know they are important, regardless of what their living situation is.

It would be nice if we all had thousands or millions of dollars to donate each year to end homelessness and hunger – unfortunately, that’s not a reality. Making plarn sleeping mats allows the average person who wants to help a means of doing so and showing someone else they care.

When?
Now.

That’s right – now is as good a time as any.

The plarn mats can be used year round and are appreciated by those who receive them.

There is no set time for this type of donation. It may be difficult to find a local group if they haven’t had any sort of media coverage, but if a group exists, you could find out by contacting your local shelter(s). If they are already receiving this type of donation, then they would most likely put you in contact with the organizer already sending plarn mats their way. If there is no group in your area – start one. If you do not want to start a group, then feel free to make the mats one by one and donate them as you complete each.

There is no timeline for this type of donation. Each one donated is timely as far as the recipient is concerned.

How?
Finding a tutorial on how to make the plarn sleeping mats took a little digging but I found a video tutorial on the Lutheran Church Ministries Website. The tutorial can be found by clicking here. The video tutorial is really good and walks you through making plarn from various plastic bags and how to make the sleeping mat with a handle (for carrying during the day).

Unfortunately, the tutorial does not show how a “pillow” area can be made; however, I believe if you make the mat longer than suggested and fold over the edge, you could stitch it down one side and across the sleeping area of the mat, ending up with an open-ended “pillow area” that would hold items when the mat is rolled up.

Articles and Websites Referenced:
http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/drc/localnews/stories/DRC_mats_1227.378f389a6.html

http://www.greatbridgebaptist.org/matsforthehomeless

http://www.catholicsun.org/2011/july/26/homeless-sleeping-mat-project.html

http://kanawha.ext.wvu.edu/families_and_health/plasticmat

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10210/1075909-55.stm

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2 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Charitable Giving

 

2 responses to “Charitable Crochet: Sleeping Mats for the Homeless

  1. Carol Hughes

    January 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    oh what a lovely idea!! I wish i could crochet :-S

     
  2. Cris

    January 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I think one of the things I like about this project is that you don't need to crochet in order to participate in a group that does it! Non-crocheters can cut the bags and make the plarn (of course, you'd need a group local to accept your plarn donation). If you are a knitter, I'm sure you could knit with plarn too, my guess is that it would just take more plarn to make the mat.

     

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