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Putting Trash to Work – Sleeping Mats for the Homeless

April 10 - April 30

Help the homeless and the environment at the same time! Keep plastic grocery bags out of the landfill by converting them into a plastic yarn called “plarn” used by Mercy Mats of West Allis to crochet cushy sleeping mats, which will be distributed by Repairers of the Breach.

The mats are lightweight, portable, easy to clean and offer a great barrier between the ground and the body to help retain body heat while sleeping outdoors. Staying warm can be the difference between life and death in Wisconsin’s climate. With ongoing evictions and fewer beds available in shelters due to COVID-19 capacity limitations, vulnerable populations face additional barriers to housing.

It takes 500-700 plastic bags and about 700 hours to make one 3×6 foot sleeping mat! The mats are frequently used under sleeping bags or in warming shelters. Last year, Mercy Mats West Allis completed and delivered 109 mats. This year, they have already donated 6 mats!

But, don’t worry! We are only asking you to spend a couple hours converting the bags into “plarn” in the comfort of your own home. This is a great project for the whole family!

Activities: It is a simple process in which you fold, cut and knot plastic bags together. It takes an adult approximately 1 minute to complete the process with one bag. We will send you a video with easy to follow instructions for the whole family!

Collect and use plastic bags from your own grocery runs (must be clean and smoke free) and pick up additional bags from designated homes throughout the Milwaukee area. Addresses will be provided following registration.

Purpose: Keep plastic bags out of the landfills and prep plarn for local crochet experts to make sleeping mats for community members lacking consistent housing.

Impact: Children will see first hand how to reuse trash and turn it into something useful! They will also learn teamwork skills as you work together as a family towards a common goal.

When: Additional plastic bags will be available for pick-up beginning April 10. Drop off completed balls of “plarn” by April 30.

Where: Your home!

Registration: Register HERE

Cancellations: Please email erinlemoine@kicmke.org if you can no longer assist with this project.

Participant Cap: unlimited

Age: All ages! There is a job for everyone! The youngest kids can flatten the bags out, fold them and roll the plarn into balls. Slightly older kids can connect the loops and the older kids can do the cutting!

Cost: Free

Questions: Contact erinlemoine@kicmke.org with any questions.

More Information: Learn more about Mercy Mats from this Fox6 segment and on their Facebook page.


April 10
April 30
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