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Mats for the Homeless

Last year I finished a one year adventure that changed my life. Researching the words of Jesus, I identified twelve of the major social concerns on his heart. Concentrating on one issue per month, I gave away my income to agencies and organizations working on behalf of those twelve issues. Along the way I documented my journey by writing the book, Risking It All: One Woman's Adventure Giving Away Her Income. As I write this post, my literary agent is submitting the manuscript to potential publishers.

The yearlong experience gave me some new understanding of the issues we face today - locally, statewide, nationwide, and internationally. I read, I researched, I listened, and I donated. In addition to my financial contributions, I looked for hands-on ways to make a difference in the lives of the needy. My mindset is that I can't do everything, but I can do something.

Since then I've continually watched for other tangible ways to help others in need. Recently I learned of a project that uses plastic grocery bags to construct sleeping mats for the homeless. Even non-crafty people can assist in making the "plarn" (plastic yarn) which gets crocheted into mats, six feet long by three feet wide. These mats easily roll up and have a carrying strap. They provide a more comfortable barrier between the sleeper and the ground.

1. Collect your plastic bags. Homeless mats are one useful way of recycling them.

2. Flatten each bag. Cut straight across to remove the handles at the top and the seam across the bottom. Discard those pieces.

3. Cut the bag across the middle from side to side. Then cut each of the two pieces in half. You should now have four loops of plastic to use.

4. Loop two of the loops together and make a long chain, in the same way you'd string rubber bands into a long strip.

5. Starting at one end, roll your plarn into a ball, useful for crocheting.

6. Crochet or find a friend who can crochet your plarn into a rectangular mat. There are many YouTube videos available to show how.

7. Connect with a church or other ministry that will distribute the mats to the homeless in your area.

Note: It will take 500-700 grocery bags to make one mat.

I pray the Lord's blessings on you as you help care for those living on the streets.

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