Jul 12, 2023

Feel Good Friday: Helping the Homeless and the Environment

LECANTO, Fla. — The congregation at Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church in Lecanto is accomplishing three goals at the same time.

They are helping the homeless, saving the planet by recycling plastic bags and getting the community involved by creating plastic yarn or plarn blankets.

Church Deacon Gail Towell explained what is a plarn blanket or mat.

"What it is we’re taking grocery bags, flatten them out, cut them, make them into yarn and then crotchet them into the mats,” said Deacon Towell.

Deacon Towell explained the process so smoothly, it even sounds like a simple undertaking.

It is a complicated job, however.

Many hands are involved, and the deacon said more volunteers are needed.

“If anybody wants to join us, please do," she said. "We’ll take all the hands we can get.”

That is because it takes up to 500 to 700 bags to make just one blanket. And it takes up to a month to finish just one. But just one plarn blanket makes a difference because it is what a homeless person could use to stay dry.

“The mats go under sleeping bags, so that if they’re sleeping in the woods or somewhere like that, then it gives them something dry,” she said.

The entire process to make the blankets is broken up into four jobs.

There are bag flatteners, the cutters of the plastic bags, the people looping them and the crocheters.

Deacon Towell explained why the volunteers go through all the work knowing it could be short lived.

“It gives a sense of accomplishment," she said. "They last about a season. They stretch, get lost, the plarning breaks. But we give them another one.”

It is doing good for the community, not to mention all the plastic bags they are putting to better use.

It goes to show doing good for others makes you feel good too.