Carol Waters, president of Eta Theta Chapter in Escondido, CA, has given upcycling a charitable twist that has earned her a bit of a reputation. Carol has been fondly nicknamed the bag lady by members in her chapter. Carol has been hard at work creating sleeping mats for the homeless by crocheting plastic grocery bags together to donate to Escondido’s local Interfaith Community Services. These mats, though they may not exactly look like a sleep number, provide warmth to those sleeping out of doors, which is particularly important when temperatures make sleeping outside dangerous and sometimes deadly.
These mats require 600-700 plastic bags in total that must be cut into strips and made into “plarn” or plastic yarn, before being crocheted. This presented a unique challenge for Carol since California has banned the use of plastic bags, but she was humbled as her chapter members banded together to find any bags they could. Carol received bag donations through the mail from states as close as Nevada and as far flung as Virginia.
Finding enough bags wasn’t Carol’s only challenge. She had never crocheted a stitch in her life. But, as chapter member Janice Shaffer said, “When [Carol] gets something on her mind, she won’t budge. She’s always busy thinking of new things we can do.” So with a little determination and help from her chapter she learned to crochet as well.
Making plastic sleeping mats for the homeless is a fantastic way to give back to your community while making good use of all of those plastic bags that collet at home. Ask your local homeless shelter or disaster relief organization if they have a need for sleeping mats. If you are interested in making mats to donate you can find instructions here
For more crafty charity ideas visit our make a difference page in the Member Center.