Make Plastic Bags Do More Than Just Carry Stuff

CREAMERY PA – A collection of plastic bags, skillfully woven into sturdy and durable but soft mats, may provide homeless individuals with a more comfortable night’s sleep. That’s the goal of volunteers working with a Collegeville area non-profit, Integrate For Good, which is coordinating efforts to produce the mats.

Integrate For Good’s stated mission is to “provide lasting support and empowerment for people living with disabilities.” It operates an “Empowerment Lab” to help disabled students explore their potential for and interests in higher education and new career opportunities. Its “Leadership Incubator” trains area residents and employees “to build a culture of inclusion and equity,” according to its website.

It also involves local groups and corporations in volunteer-oriented team-building activities. Independent studies show they “boost workplace morale” and promote group interaction, while benefiting the community. That’s where the sleeping mats, as well as what Integrate For Good calls other “exciting and meaningful projects,” come in.

On 14 remaining dates during August, the organization has scheduled mat-making gatherings at several area locations. Got a spare hour or two, have an urge to brighten someone’s day, and want to learn a new and interesting skill? Creating the mats might appeal to you.

Leaders will demonstrate how to turn the plastic bags into plastic yarn – better known as “plarn” – and use a wooden loom to “knit” the mat together. Everyone of all abilities is encouraged to join. Completed sleeping mats are delivered to those in need by several Integrate For Good partners, it explained.

Sessions are scheduled at:

  • Perkiomen Valley Brewery, 101 Walnut St., Green Lane, on three Wednesdays (Aug. 10, 17, and 24) from 3-5 p.m.;
  • Indian Valley Public Library, 1010 E. Church Rd. Ave., Telford, on three Thursdays (Aug. 11, 18, and 25) from 10-11:30 a.m.;
  • Ursinus College, Commons Building Room 105, 601 E. Main St., Collegeville, on a Monday (Aug. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon), and two Thursdays (Aug. 11 and 18 from 4-6 p.m.);
  • Camphill Soltane, 224 Nantmeal Rd., Glenmoore, on two Tuesdays (Aug. 16 and 23) from 10 a.m. to noon; and at the
  • Coffee Closet with Barista Jake, 2117 W. Main St., Norristown, on three Wednesdays (Aug. 10, 17, and 24) from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Mat-making not quite your thing? You might also choose to paint “kindness rocks,” write “hope notes,” or even pen a message of thanks and gratitude to front-line heroes, it suggested.

Photo provided by the Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce