(From left) Innisfail Seniors Drop-in Society seniors Teressa Greening, Colleen Preston, Carol Dahmer, and Val Audette were at Turning Point Tuesday to donate 12 plarn mats for the homeless. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Innisfail seniors make sleeping mats out of plastic bags for homeless

Red Deer’s Turning Point will give out plarn mats to homeless

A group of Innisfail seniors are turning plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless.

The group donated 12 plarn mats to Turning Point in Red Deer on Tuesday.

The women have been working on the project, once a week at the seniors centre, for the last three to four months.

Some of them like Carol Dahmer, 77, have been taking the project home and making the mats at home.

“When I’m sitting there watching TV, I think I’m doing two good things – helping the homeless and reducing waste, ” said Dahmer. “It’s a real good feeling.”

Eileen Reid, Innisfail Seniors Drop-in Society program co- ordinator, introduced the craft to the women.

Reid said plastic bags are cut into rings, which are then looped together to make a plastic chain and then rolled into balls.

“It’s like yarn made out of plastic so its called plarn – plastic yarn,” said Reid. “Then they crochet them into these mats.”

The result: three by six feet mats which can be used to sleep on.

“It’s really satisfying actually because so many things are coming out of simple project,” said Reid.

The plastic repels bugs, and is easy to wash and dry.

The women added “ties” to the mats so the homeless can tie them and carry them around on their shoulder like sleeping bags.

“It will give them a little bit of a cushion to lay on and adds as an insulating barrier between them and the ground,” she said.

Aisley Miles, Turning Point program manager, said the mats are really soft, squishy and comfortable.

Miles said it’s really thoughtful of the women to think of those who are sleeping rough, adding that it would help the homeless stay dry – especially during spring time.

Reid said the project has also helped the women socialize.

“The socialization of people who might otherwise be lonely have now got a group and it gives people purpose and people like to have purpose and they’re proud what they’re doing,” said Reid, 58.

She said the project was labour-intensive at first but the women helped each other out and got better at it.

The group taught is now sharing the skill with others. The women were in Olds on May 24 teaching another seniors group to make plarn mats.

“It’s actually bringing a tear in my eye to see that it’s making such a difference,” said Innisfail’s Val Audette.

“I don’t feel like I’m wasting time watching TV when I’m able to do something.”


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