JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Some South Mississippi students and church members are trying to make nights more comfortable for the homeless. They are making sleeping mats from items most people would consider as trash.
Many people probably have plastic grocery bags piling up in their homes, and sometimes, they end up in the trash. Some Jackson County students are working with a Biloxi church to turn the bags into useful gifts for the homeless.
Since before Thanksgiving, the student council at St. Martin Middle School has been collecting the plastic bags. There are just too many to count.
Before classes start every morning, the students cut off the handles and bottoms of the bags, cut the bags into three-inch strips, loop the strips then wind them into a ball of yarn. The students call the balls of plastic yarn "plarn."
A group called Sew & Sow from First Baptist Church in Biloxi crochets the "plarn" into care mats. The homeless can use the mats to sleep on at night.
"I feel really grateful and happy, because it makes me feel good that the homeless people will actually have mats so they don't have to sleep on the ground, and they won't be cold for Christmas," said sixth grader Annemarie Goodman.
"If they're under a bridge or wherever they are, it gives them a little bit of cushioning, and it's washable. It uses something we have way more than they," said Linda Dutton, a church member. "I want to be able to give them something of my own time, of my own skills, and put it to use for someone else."
The church members say all the prep work being done by the students really saves them a lot of time and effort.
"Oh, I was so elated. It gave them a purpose beyond themselves, and it helped us out so we could just do the crocheting," said Dutton.
"I think it's something amazing, because we can reuse something that most people would just throw away," said Annemarie.
The care mats will be donated to the Salvation Army and other organizations that help the homeless. This will be an ongoing project for the school.
Due to an influx of donations, the school is not accepting any more plastic bags at this time.