Barnwell women crochet unusual sleeping mats for homeless

From bags to bedding, volunteers are crocheting hope for the homeless.

Corrie Lee Dicks (left) crochets plastic bags into a sleeping mat while Sherrie Still and her granddaughter tie strips of bags together. Marjorie Morris (right) folds and cuts the bags.

Marjorie Morris, a member of Barnwell First Baptist Church, was inspired to make the mats after reading an article in Mature Living, a Southern Baptist magazine, on making sleeping mats for the homeless out of plastic bags. “I said, ‘I think that’s something I can do,’ ” said Morris.

The mats will keep homeless people, who often use materials like cardboard to sleep on, off the cold, wet ground, said Sherrie Still, another church member.

The mats will go to help local homeless people first because “we do have homeless people in Barnwell,” said Morris. “We’re going to start with home first” and then maybe branch out to help other communities. They will work with the church, local organizations and individuals to determine where the need is.

Besides a bed, the group wants to provide hope. “People just need to know they’re loved,” said Still.

The group aims to let the homeless know that “God really cares for them,” said Morris.

Still said their biblical motto is Proverbs 19:17, which says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.”

Within just a few weeks, the idea and excitement has spread throughout the church and community.

The group, now called Knotters for Christ, has volunteers of all ages, including Still’s 6-year-old granddaughter Alauna, helping with the various steps in making the mats. Jan Still’s special-needs class at Guinyard-Butler Middle School is also helping, and the group wants to see if local shut-ins want to help as well.

Corrie Lee Dicks crochets plastic bags of various colors into sleeping mats for the homeless.

Several stores (Reid’s, Wal-Mart and IGA) and individuals have donated bags – both new and used – to the ministry. “This is one-hundred-percent just God stepping in and taking over,” said Still. “There are bags coming from everywhere.”

The group needs every bag they can get because the mats are made from start to finish out of the plastic bags – 500-700 bags pet mat, said Morris.

After cutting off the bag’s handles and bottom, volunteers cut the bag into three circular strips which are then knotted together and rolled into a ball. The material, which is called “plarn” (short for plastic yarn), is then crocheted into mats. Morris said there are several online videos that explain how to make the mats.

Church member Corrie Lee Dicks, who has crocheted since she was 5 or 6 years old, has completed three mats already.

“All help is appreciated,” because there is something for everyone. “They will be a blessing, and it will be a blessing to them,” she said.


– A version of this story first appeared in The (Barnwell) People-Sentinel and is reprinted with permission.

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Article by: Jonathan Vickery