Women transform plastic bags into beds for homeless

Video by Jessica Babb | Broadcast Managing Editor,Story by Courtney Sosnowski | Reporter

Lakeshore United Methodist Church joined Journey to the Streets ministry in an effort to make sure homeless people in Waco have a place to lay their heads at night. What do they have to offer? A cheap, water-proof, light-weight, portable bedroll crocheted out of plastic grocery sacks.

Linda Moseley, a member of the church, has been crocheting for over 50 years.

“We are a mission,” Moseley said. “We are trying to get the churches in the central district involved, either making the ‘plarn,’ cutting the bags or crocheting. It’s a mission that the whole United Methodist Church in the central district can get involved in.”

After hearing about the crocheting for the homeless project, Moseley joined a group of women crocheting at the Empowerment House, a meeting place associated with Journey to the Streets ministry located in China Springs. In an effort to bring the project closer to Waco, Lakeshore opened its doors. The movement has since attracted women from 11 different Methodist churches in the area.

“It feels good to serve,” Moseley said. “We’re not here for ourselves. We are here to serve others.”

After collecting enough plastic bags, the first step is to turn those bags into “plarn,” or plastic yarn. With a few simple folds and cuts, a plastic bag transforms into strips that can be tied together and rolled into what looks like a ball of yarn. From there, it’s just like crocheting with regular yarn.

Once the bedrolls are made, a team of volunteers from Journey to the Streets takes the beds out on their Saturday pilgrimages to downtown Waco. For several years, Journey to the Streets has operated under the leadership of Phyllis Shows, bringing food to the homeless, and now, the team is happy to hand out the bedrolls as well.

Gloria Helleson, a volunteer with Journey to the Streets, said that homeless people react with tears when they receive their very own bedroll.

“They cling to it like it’s the first thing they ever had, [like] a child with a new toy,” Helleson described. “It’s the most humbling situation you can ever come across. There are really not words, it’s all heart.”

Helleson and Moseley both confirmed that the ministry could use more crocheters and people to do the “grunt work” of cutting plarn. But it seems that the women who have joined the group have been deeply committed, and have a good time while serving. They laugh out loud and enjoy fellowship while gathering together to crochet.

The group has also included women who are homebound. Moseley explained that her 91-year-old landlord often has balls of plarn waiting for her whenever she returns from work.

“We have one homebound lady who made three [beds] in three weeks,” Helleson said. “So this lady is my hero. She is just so on fire to do this.”

The beds are approximately 2 1/2 to 3 feet wide, and 6 feet long. A strap is included so that the bed can be rolled up and carried when not in use. It takes 500-700 plastic bags and hours of crocheting to make one bedroll. Upon delivery, each bedroll has a note tied to it that reads in part:

Dear friend, may you be blessed in a special way with this free bedroll to help make your life a little more comfortable. May you know that many women and men work to make these mats to bless you because people really do care about you and your situation…

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