BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A local mission group has found a creative way to recycle plastic grocery bags into a form of security and comfort for the homeless.
It is not your typical woman's group. The ladies were actually part of a book club that has found a passion for a unique type of crocheting.
Carol Bell has been doing it for 12 years.
"We're flattening the bags. Once you cut them into strips you loop them, once they are looped you started to make a ball. What you're going to do is take it, feed what has become a ball of plastic yarn through here. Now you've got it and you can roll it up and make a bigger ball," Bell demonstrated.
Then, the crochet needles go to work. The recycled plastic is quilted into a large padded mat.
"I take them when I get my car fixed and people come up and they want to know what I am doing," Bell said.
Bell and her new friends are part of a mission called Crocheting Compassion. They are making mats for the homeless. It takes roughly 500 plastic bags to make one.
Martha Dishongh said it is truly a labor of love.
"I timed it once and it took eight hours to do preparation of all the bags and then eight hours to crochet a 3x6 mat," Dishongh explained.
She has crocheted eleven mats this year.
Once they are finished, the mats are rolled and organizer, Gerry Stark, takes them to the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless. Stark said while the work it is rewarding, it also comes with a harsh realization.
"It breaks my heart that I may only have six to 12 mats to deliver when there are dozens of men and women who would love to have one," Stark said.
But word of their work is spreading fast.
"I've been to New Orleans. I've been all over showing people how to do it," Bell said.
She said when she stitches plastic bags in public it draws a crowd. Once people learn the ladies are crocheting compassion they often times want to become part of the process.
Faith Presbyterian Church
12855 Old Hammond Hwy
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Time: Thursdays, 10a-12p
Contact: Carol Bell
First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge Homeless Ministry
Contact: Kathleen Carroll
East Baton Rouge Parish Libraries Crocheting for a Cause
Jones Creek Regional Branch Library
6222 Jones Creek Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70817
First Tuesday of the Month, 1p-3p
Schedule for offerings at Main Library coming early 2015
Contact: Gerry Stark
The 2015 schedule of Crocheting for a Cause at the Main Library
7711 Goodwood Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA
Beginning Jan. 14: second Wednesday of the month in Teen Activity Room, 3p-5p
Beginning Jan. 22: fourth Sunday of the month in Conference Room 102, 3p-5p