congregation of the sisters of st joseph of peace
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Mats for the Homeless

by Sister Julie Codd, CSJP

The Home Team—a group of sisters and associates who program activities for the community of retired sisters living at our western regional center in Bellevue, Washington—had a wonderful offer from Dale Kelley, CSJP-A to make Mats for the Homeless. We were in for a real treat! The scope of our project unfolded before us when Dale and two of her friends, Joan and Betty, showed the Sisters at St. Mary-on-the-Lake a short video and a finished mat.

We learned that the mats were a great project for two reasons: They were made out of plastic bags-particularly the small bags with handles used in grocery stores; and it takes 700 bags to make one mat. This meant those bags would not end up in such places as storm drains, polluting beaches or in the stomachs of sea animals, to mention a few.

The other reason this was a great project is these mats provide people who are homeless with a mat for sleeping. They are lightweight, keep dampness out, are bug free and can be easily washed and dry quickly. Many groups are coming together to make them, not only for the homeless on our streets, but also for people in places which have been hit by a natural disaster.

It is a two-step process. You flatten the plastic bag, cut the handles off the top and cut the bottom, leaving a square. Cut the square in the middle and then cut both sides making four circular pieces. Then loop them together to make plarn (instead of yarn) which you crochet into the mats. After you have a good supply of these loops connected together, you then use a size P plastic crochet hook and begin to work. It's a big surprise to see the color scheme that appears as you work with the different colors of the plastic bags!

It was great fun, and now we know the plastic bags have a great purpose. Someone warned us that we shouldn't use the new decomposable bags as they wouldn't hold up!!!

FACTS: Statistics reveal that only 5% of the six billion plastic bags in Los Angeles County were recycled and the petroleum used to create 14 plastic bags could power a car for one mile.

Mats for Homeless 1Mats for Homeless 2

"If our role as messengers of God’s good news means anything to us, the chorus of people begging for peace will touch a special place in our hearts. "

Patricia Lynch, CSJP