Members of the German Club at East Forsyth High School are using creativity for a good cause.
Students are crocheting bedroll mats for the homeless by using yarn made out of plastic grocery bags.
Club advisor Andrea Monroe, who teaches German at East, got the idea from one of the ministers at her church.
“I thought it was one way to give back to the community,” said Jessica Slade, the club’s co-president.
Gerzayn Hernandez, the club’s vice president, also liked the idea of turning something that people often toss into the trash into something useful. “I thought it was a very unique idea,” he said.
All 25 members of the club – as well as other students drawn to the project – are participating. Making the plastic yarn – or “plarn,” as they call it – and crocheting the mats is a time-consuming process, and by the time the students have reached their goal of 20 mats, they will have invested hundreds of hours in the project. The process of making plarn begins with flattening the bags, slicing off the bottoms and the handles and then cutting what remains into strips. Someone then loops the strips to form the plarn, which is rolled into a ball, just as regular yarn is. About 500 bags go into making enough plarn to crochet a mat. Addie Nash, the club’s secretary, already had considerable experience crocheting scarves, hats and such, and plarn is significantly harder to work with than regular yarn, she said. Crocheting each 4½ -foot-by-6-foot mat takes about 35 hours.
With plastic grocery bags coming in such colors as white, beige and black, plarn makers have the option of creating lengths of single-color plarn. When various lengths of single-color plarn are used, the mat ends up looking like a cross between a braided rug and a yoga mat. The plastic mats work well outside. Rain doesn’t cause them to deteriorate and crocheted plarn works well as insulation.
The students don’t have to worry about running out of bags before they finish the project. When they put out the word to the East Forsyth community that they wanted plastic bags for the project, people brought in more than 10,000 bags. So far, the students have completed five mats. Once all 20 mats are done, they will donate them to Samaritan Ministries in Winston-Salem. The students want to provide blankets along with the mats, and they are selling suckers for 50 cents each to raise money to do that.
“I am so proud of the German students at East Forsyth High School for recognizing a need to help their fellow man,” said Principal Patricia Gainey. “The mats they are making definitely show an act of love and compassion for adults in need.”