Homeless Sleeping Mat Ministry: How to Help from Home

By: Lauren Cumbie
On Behalf of Eastmont Baptist Church
| March 19, 2020 |

One of the ministries that takes place weekly at Eastmont is our homeless sleeping mat ministry. For those of you who haven’t heard about this ministry, here’s a quick synopsis. Every week a group of around 10 ladies meet at Eastmont to weave sleeping mats for the homeless. Once those mats have been weaved they roll up a bible, a pillow, and some other necessities into the mat and then donate them to Reality and Truth, a homeless ministry in Montgomery. Reality and Truth then give these to those who need them and are able to minister to people through them.

Dogwood Journal Update: Due to Covid-19 these weekly meetings are no longer taking place. Many are working from home to create these mats or you may want to begin making them yourself or with your church or organization. Read on for a guide to prepping the bags and a link to completing your own mats!

What Are the Mats Made Of?

You might be wondering, what do they weave these mats out of? These mats are made from something that you probably have tons of in your house right now. They’re made from plastic shopping bags and it takes more than 2,000 to make each mat. Be a part of this ministry by donating plastic bags and by prepping them ahead of time for the ladies who are a part of this ministry.

Here are three ways that you can help from home!

Save and Donate Plastic Shopping Bags

It takes a lot of plastic shopping bags to make each of these sleeping mats and the more that we have the more mats we can make. One great way that you can serve through this ministry is by donating plastic shopping bags. When you come home from your Walmart trip, instead of throwing away those bags, save them! This is a huge help! (Remember it takes over 2,000 bags to make a mat!) Ask your friends, neighbors, or office to collect them also.

Prep Your Plastic Shopping Bags

If you’d like to take it one step further, after collecting your shopping bags you can also prep them!  This is one less step that the ladies have to do on Wednesdays!

To prep the bags, first pull the corners of the bags to flatten it out like in the picture below. Then, cut the handle of the bag off as well as about an inch off the bottom of the bag. This leaves you with a rectangle. Don’t throw away the handles and other pieces. We use those to stuff pillows! This is a no-waste project!

a plastic bag showing cut pattern to be woven for a homeless person to sleep on
Pro-tip: Don’t try to cut more than one bag at a time. When you cut multiple bags some of them end up being uneven and our volunteers end up having to go back through the bags individually which is time-consuming. Just cut one at a time. 

Connect Your Plastic Bags

If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can take it to the final step and connect your bags together to make ropes. If you have Walmart bags, make ropes of 4 (these are the perfect length for the structure of our mats). If you have any other kind of plastic bag, make ropes of 7 (these are the ones that we weave back and forth).

To connect your bags create a loop from the rectangular part as shown in the picture below. Next, take one loop and stick it through the middle of the other loop. Take one end of that loop and pull it up towards itself. Tuck the top portion of the folded loop underneath its other side. Tug on the tucked portion while pulling the other loop in the opposite direction. This will create a knot that links the two loops. You can add any number of bags to this rope in the same manner. When you have several connected it will look like the second picture below. Make sure as you connect more bags that there is no slack between the knots.

An example of how to loop the plastic bags to be woven
An example of the final step of prepping the bags to be woven for a homeless sleeping mat

This is a great way to pass the time while you’re at home, reuse some plastic bags that would otherwise go to the dump, and also minister to those in our community in a unique way. We hope you’ll be a part of this amazing ministry!

Completing Your Mat!

The weaving process may take a little practice but we know you can do it. Here is a great tutorial to get you started!

This article was originally shared at Eastmont.org here. Minor edits were made to clarify content along with the addition of the video tutorial. If you have news to share with the Dogwood Journal, we would love to hear from you! Check out our submission page here.

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