In a combined effort this past summer, the Asbury Park Rotary joined forces with Donna Hulse of Hamilton Methodist Church to create durable & weatherproof sleeping mats for our local homeless population. The mats are made from plastic shopping bags (yes, that's in the plastic grocery store bags). This project served the homeless populations, but we also realized we were helping to keep many plastic bags out of landfills. How many sleeping mats did we make over the summer, and what exactly does it take to crochet a mat? Keep reading to find out!
The bags need to be flattened, stacked in piles of eight, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips, then looped together and rolled into balls of  "plarn" (plastic yarn).
They are then crocheted into a 3' x 5 1/2‘ sleeping mat. It takes approximately 500 plastic bags and 40 hours of just crocheting to create one mat. The mat are being distributed into local homeless camps by Pastor Steve from Destiny's Bridge, which serves the local homeless populations. These mats bring a bit of dignity to someone that has found themselves homeless. Each mat is unique with its own pattern. The mat will keep one dry and offers extra padding/cushion off the hard ground. 
This service project has been truly a labor of love and commitment. Everyone involved feels a sense of compassion and hopefulness for each recipient of a mat. We are praying that the individuals will not need it for long and be able to find a safe place to live soon.
If you would like to volunteer in this ongoing service project please contact Dina Blackwood, 2021-2022 Service Project Co-Chair, Rotary Club of Asbury Park.