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Plastics for a Purpose.

By Ashley Peterson

Do you ever feel like your heart is being pulled in a direction that you’re a little unsure about? Do you long to do something, to be a change maker— even a small one, if you find yourself on the timid side?

For as long as I can remember, I have participated in volunteering. From volunteering with the homeless, at church, at school to the local community hospital, I’ve always been busy helping someone, somewhere. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, because I was making a difference in a positive way and my acts helped to bless not only myself, but those around me.

About a year ago I heard a story about a co-worker in another department who was doing exactly that! She never had any intention of making as big of an impact as she has, but that is part of the beauty.

Her “little” project was to crochet mats for the homeless. You may have heard of this form of ministry, however at the time I had not. She told me about the process— from collecting plastic grocery bags, to neatly folding them, to cutting them into strips and linking them together to make plastic yarn (also known as “plarn”). The plarn is then rolled into balls. The balls can be made of all the same color or a multitude of different colored bags to make a beautiful tweed-inspired design. Lastly, the plarn is crocheted into mats approximately 2 ½ feet wide by 7 feet long.

These mats find homes among those without homes.

They go on mission trips to various places, they are given to friends who have connections to or personally know homeless folks, and now even our veterans are receiving a smaller version as shower mats. Each mat has its own personality, a unique design or array of colors that speak to not only the hearts and hands that weave them together, but also the grateful recipients who receive them with open arms.

“How do I fit into this?”, you may be wondering. For starters, do you shop and carry home plastic bags? If you don’t already repurpose each bag you bring home, they can be saved and collected here at Grace Chapel. Want to delve in deeper? After the bags are collected, they need folded! Now this is not to be confused with laundry, it is indefinitely more exciting and satisfying. After all… folding laundry usually only blesses those within your household! Folding grocery bags not only satisfies your inner self who desires things to be tidy (regardless of how big this inner self is!), but folding bags leads to a ball of plarn that blesses someone in need!

Lastly, the final stitch of the project assembly— crocheting the mats! By no means do you need to have any particular set of skills or prior craftiness (remember how I mentioned the mat’s dimensions are 7’ x 2.5’? We don’t count stitches here!). Ten working fingers is about all that is needed. I started out not knowing anything about crocheting and I’m halfway done with my first mat!

Grace Chapel has begun collecting plastic bags and will be hosting two plarning sessions— Tues., March 10 & March 24 (sign up here!). I pray that God knocks our socks off with those who help weave change in the lives of those who are less fortunate. My hope is that we are able to create beautiful mats and bless as many as we can around us!

Grace Chapel is now collecting plastic bags until Sunday, March 1. Bring them to weekend services and place in the designated bin located in the foyer or stop by during the week at the office located in the back of the building.


Ashley Peterson is a wife and mom, a lover of the beach and warm sunny weather. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, line dancing— how she met her husband— and crafting. She would love to become SCUBA certified and someday go shark cage diving.


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