At FaithWestwood, our CareMAT ministry is a church-wide endeavor. Anyone in our faith family -- even family and friends -- can participate in different ways. It takes the whole team to collect, process, and crochet the 1000 or so plastic bags it takes to create just one finished sleeping mat.
Three times a month, a team of volunteers -- the CareMATers -- meet at FaithWestwood to process the bags into "plarn," or the plastic yarn needed to crochet the mats. During this time, the plastic bags are sorted into color groups, individually flattened, and cut into strips. The strips are then connected to create the plarn.
Another group of CareMATers take the "plarn" and crochet it row after row into mats. At the end of 2019, the CareMATer team completed their 1000th mat, which represents over 1,000,000 plastic bags saved from the landfill, processed, and crocheted.
A few times a year, when several dozen bags are completed, they receive a special blessing by the congregation on Sunday morning. Then, they're delivered to any of several local community organizations for distribution.
There are several different ways to help in the CareMATers ministry:
1.Save plastic grocery bags. It takes about 1000 bags to make just one mat, so we are always looking for more. But, because the bags must all be the same size and thickness to work in our pattern, there are a few specific stores we can accept bags from:
- Bags we CAN use: Bakers, Fresh Thyme, HyVee, SuperSaver, Walmart, Fareway, Target (white bags only -- gray bags are too thick), IGA
- Bags we CANNOT use: Newspaper bags, produce bags, CVS, Walgreen's, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Kohl's, JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, Michael's.
2. Sort, flatten, and cut.
The CareMATer team meets three Wednesdays a month in the Student Ministry large group room to process the bags. Others collect materials from the church and complete this process at home too.
4. Bless + Pray. Several times a year, the Sunday congregation blesses and prays over the finished mats before they are delivered.
4. Deliver finished mats.
For additional information, contact:
Sandi Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-334-7831
Linda Hughes at email@example.com or 402-895-6907
Director of Caring Ministries Vikki O'Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready to get started? Detailed written instructions can be found here.
We have an instructional video too: