From bags to blankets: Polk group creates a soft place for the homeless to sleep

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — From bags to blankets, a group called Volunteer Polk is taking plastic grocery bags that usually can’t be recycled and upcycling them into mats for the homeless.

“We’re making the mats to provide comfort for people who are homeless. Whether they’re in homeless shelters where they might only have a cot to sleep on or people who are actually out on the street,” explained Jenny Wolf as she wrapped the plastic bags around a large crochet needle.

These volunteers are crocheting the plastic bags into soft mats.

“It’s a good way to recycle and keep things out of landfills,” said Wolf. “It’ll dry out easily because it’s plastic, and shelters like the idea because it’s something that can be easily rinsed of if they need to be cleaned,” she continued.

The team of crocheters are almost two months into their work, and they already have a few mats ready to go.

The first step is to make “plarn,” which is the yarn made out of plastic.

It is made by stacking 4 or 5 plastic bags, cutting off the ends and the handles, and cutting them into strips. These strips are then knotted together to make a long string of “plarn.” The ends and the handles are saved to be used as stuffing for pillows.

Using a size Q hook, the volunteers begin to crochet the plarn into mats.

“You just wrap it over and pull it through, wrap it over and pull it through, wrap it over and pullit through,” Wolf explained as she nimbly crafted one row of plarn around her crochet needle.

Volunteer Polk has drop off locations throughout the county where you can bring your clean plastic shopping bags.

Any students needing service hours or anyone interested in helping crochet or cut bags into strips, call (863) 534-5580 or email volunteerpolk@polk-county.net.

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