Photo by Bob Donaldson for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A group of women in Tennessee have transformed more than 52,000 used plastic bags into waterproof sleeping mats for the local homeless population. Hailing mostly from the Second Baptist Church in Union City, the self-described “Bag Ladies” came into being in January 2015 when a man told the congregation about homeless people sleeping along the Mississippi River. The process of making the mats can be addictive, said Janice Akin, a member of the group. “It gets to the point that you do two or three and you say, ‘Hey, I’m actually making a difference in someone’s life,’ and you want to do more,” she told The process of creating the beds is simple, if involved. It starts with cutting the bags into strips, then tying those strips together to make balls of plastic yarn—or “plarn,” as the ladies call them. The Bag Ladies then crochet the “plarn” into 3-by-6-foot beds.


“Mats will keep moisture away from body, create heat, and be soft to sleep on,” they wrote on their website, which includes step-by-step instructions on how to make your own.

It takes about 600 bags to make a single mat, the women said. This year, the Bag Ladies managed to make over 90 using a tight weave that makes the mats thick and extra durable.

“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.

Some of the mats found their way to Baton Rouge in Louisiana to help people who lost their homes in the recent flooding.

“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.

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Thanks to word of mouth, the ranks of the Bag Ladies have doubled in size since they first met nearly two years ago.

“It’s wonderful that it’s growing, that others want to help all these people,” said founding member Patty Arnold. “It’s a labor of love for the people who are in need.”

+ Second Baptist Church

[Via Inside Edition]