Believe it or not, plastic bags serve more purposes than first meets the eye. In the right hands, they can provide a comfortable and sheltered environment.
How, you ask?
The answer: “Plarn.”
Margie Scott, the coordinator of the Mat Ministry from Church on Randall Place, works alongside other women in Pine and Strawberry to provide sleeping mats for the homeless by crocheting plarn, “plastic yarn.”
Scott explained the process of making the plarn and crocheting it into sleeping mats. “It’s all handmade from start to finish, making the plarn by cutting the bags into rings.”
Scott said that first the bags are folded and measured then cut into pieces to form the plastic rings. The rings are then looped together with a slip knot until the various lengths can form a ball of plarn. The plarn is then crocheted into plastic sleeping mats about six feet long.
“It’s easy, just adjusting to the different thickness of bags ... The crochet is loosely done, which is important and makes the bags take on a look and feel of fabric.”
It takes about 500 to 700 bags to make one mat. The mats serve several purposes, from a pillow to a sleeping mat and a shelter from the elements. Making the mats out of plastic bags serves as a recycling method to help the environment Scott added.
But mostly, Scott and the women of the Mat Ministry are hoping to serve and bless those in need.
“We talked of how we could serve and reach out to our community. We prayed over several ideas. The Mat Ministry really tugged at my heart, as it is a great need even worldwide.”
As the ministry took off, supplies began to pour in as many people donated plastic bags said Scott. The Mat Ministry has a threefold purpose: “To bring comfort to [the] homeless ... to witness to those without Christ, or those hurting and suffering ... and to be a servant of the Lord, community, and even the world.”
The Mat Ministry will donate to the food banks in Payson, the children of Laura Floras in Ecuador, and other women in the poorest regions of Ecuador.
Scott and the women of the Mat Ministry equip, train and teach those who are interested in helping to make the mats. They have had several successful classes already, where they taught some youngsters about making and crocheting the plarn. Several families came up from Payson to learn about the process.
“We can help strengthen those in need, and bring the gospel to those that are lost. We can make a difference by reaching out and showing that someone does care,” Scott said.
The group will meet July 25 at the Church on Randall Place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. for anyone interested in helping.