Elkhart Public Library hosts training to make mats for the homeless

NOW: Elkhart Public Library hosts training to make mats for the homeless

ELKHART, Ind. - 

An item often piling up in households or landfills is now needed for a DIY project to help the homeless in Michiana.

Elkhart public library and a nonprofit called Michiana Five for the Homeless are teaming up to help get rid of the clutter and help the homeless by teaching how to crochet plastic grocery bags into mats.

The library hosted its first training session on Saturday. The final two sessions are Monday at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Each session lasts about two hours.

The library says participants do not need any prior experience in crocheting to make these mats.

Both the instructions to make them and the materials will be provided.

This is the first year Elkhart Public Library has done this project. Michiana Five for the Homeless brought the idea to the library, and Marketing Manager Trevor Wendzonka says the project fits into the library's idea of lifelong learning.

"We want to give people opportunities to experience different things, to learn different skills,” he said. “Of course in making these mats they're learning how to crochet, but another compelling element of this is that people get a chance to become a little more educated to the issues facing the homeless population in our community."

The partners hope the project will make a huge difference for the homeless as the months get colder.

“These mats are so important to help people through the winter,” said Wendzonka.

Each mat is made up of about 800 plastic bags. Though they can time consuming to make, for someone sleeping on the streets these mats mean the difference between sleeping on a cold hard sidewalk and a cushioned surface.

Wendzonka says being made from plastic bags makes the mats even easier to use.

"Because they're made of plastic bags they're a little bit more weatherproof. They can be cleaned more easily. Really it seems to be a good way to contribute our time and energy to help them out," he said.

The library has a goal of finishing 50 mats to donate by December 2. More information can be found on the library's website.

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