Plastic Bags Woven Into Mats to Help Homeless in San Angelo

Mavis Bell, board member of Project Dignidad, unrolled a white and brown mat with a yellow tie to show it off to those around her.

The San Angelo Standard-Times reports the mat was about 3 feet by 6 feet and constructed out of grocery bags. The mats are soft but durable and intended for homeless people to sleep on.

Several Mosaic clients and volunteers from Calvary Lutheran Church recently presented five grocery-bag mats to the staff of Project Dignidad.

Project Dignidad serves about 600 people per month with emergency groceries, clothing and other items such as blankets. Several homeless people come to the program and staff members outreach to other homeless as well.

"We have had these type of mats before and we really need them to pass them out," said Jeannie Solis, director of services at Project Dignidad. "We are very blessed that Mosaic wanted to do this."

"They are easy to roll up and take with them wherever they go and they are waterproof."

Since the city ordinance went into effect to prohibit camping in non-designated properties, Project Dignadad has seen more homeless people. They have also seen some find places to live and get the help they need.

"Feeding their bellies is still our main priority," Solis said.

Mat-making began when Doris Wendland from the church found instructions for making the mats online and contacted Ami Mitzell-Flint, Mosaic community relations officer.

"When I saw it in action, it was amazing. What's great about it for us, is that no matter what ability people have they are able to do it," Mitzell-Flint said.

The bags need to be flattened, folded and cut before the bags are tied together and crocheted. There is a different skill level needed for each part of the process.

About 800 bags make a mat and provide a way to reuse bags that otherwise might end up in the landfill.

Some of the clients at Mosaic flatten the bags while others use scissors. Volunteers from the church crochet the bag yarn into mats.

Since September 2016, four women from the church attend what has been dubbed Monday Fun Day at Mosaic. The volunteers and clients work on creating the mats and other crafts while the clients wait for horseback riding sessions.

"What started as a community service project turned into this beautiful relationship between the church ladies and people from Mosaic," Mitzell-Flint said.

"When they haven't seen each other for a while and they come back, I don't know who is more excited to see who. It's like a family reunion."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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