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Mats for the Homeless

Creating waterproof mats for the homeless.

Upcoming Training Session

A training session will be held in December at the Wheeling Public Library in conjunction with National Louis University.  Details will be published in the bulletin in the fall.

Mats at St. Edna

One way to give back to our community is by creating mats to provide some cushioning for those forced to sleep on concrete.  Mats soften hard surfaces and offer a layer of protection between the body and the ground, tent, floor or park bench. Sleeping mats for the homeless are made totally out of recycled plastic grocery bags, making them light-weight and waterproof.  If you knit or crochet, that is great, and if not, it’s easy to learn by looking at the directions below or contacting WOSE for assistance. 

The bin in the Narthex continually has bags to be used to make the yarn and completed balls to be crocheted into the mats.  We are now delivering the mats to St. Zachary’s outreach for distribution.  Over 230 mats have been completed.

Click here to see photos of a training session and completed mats.

Directions for Making the Mats

Supplies: 

  • Plastic grocery bags (not the heavy plastic bags like Target)
  • Scissors
  • Template (2-1/4" wide)
  • Crochet hook size M or N

Cut Bags:

    1. Flatten bags.

    2. Fold bag sideways in half and then in half again.

    3. Cut off handles.

    4. Using template, cut bags into strips of 2-1/4" wide.  Discard the bottom seam.

Make Yarn:

    5. Make yarn by looping a ring inside another, then pulling through itself.  Tighten knot.  Continue looping rings.

    6. Roll into a ball of "yarn" about the size of a softball.

Crochet Mat:

  1.     7. Using single crochet, make a mat 3 ft. wide (36") by 6 ft. long (72").  Make one chain stitch turning chain at the end of each row.  Single crochet in second chain from hook.
  2.     8. Make a carrying strap by single crocheting 2 rows wide by 90 inches long.  Do not attach to end.
    1.  
When finished, turn them in by depositing them in the wooden receptacle in the church narthex.  
 
There are several videos available to help you get started.  You can find them by searching on-line for "Mats for the Homeless" or clicking here.
 
For printable directions, click here

History of the Mats at St. Edna

In the fall of 2010, while attending a Breakfast with the Bishop, the WOSE board members were shown samples of mats for the homeless and were encouraged to make them as a service project.  The members of St. Mary parish in Buffalo Grove graciously invited us to attend a weekly meeting where several of their members were busily making the mats.  We were so impressed we decided to bring the idea to St. Edna. 

For several weeks, parishioners were asked to save plastic bags and were finally asked to drop them off in January.  At that time, a training session was scheduled for mid-January 2011.  Over 100 people attended, including several families with children. Attendees were shown how to fold and cut and tie the bags and then roll them into balls.  They were also shown how to crochet the plastic into mats.  Everyone was encouraged to take home bags to work on the cutting and tying.

Three more training sessions were held as well as demonstrations at some schools in the area.  We were also asked to show the project to a local A parishioner at Transfiguration parish in Wauconda asked us to hold a training session for their parishioners. They continue to supply the mats to the homeless in the area. 

In the beginning, the mats were taken to Cornerstone Ministry in the Uptown area of Chicago.  Over 170 mats were delivered to Chicago.  Since 2013, Jack Bryers, a parishioner at St. Zachary in Des Plaines, has been picking up the mats and distributing them to the homeless in our area.  We have now completed over 270 mats.

 

Contacts

For more information or to volunteer, please call the St. Edna Parish Office at 847-398-3362.