Local group turning plastic bags into mats for homeless

Gatesville groups crochets mats out of plastic bags for homeless
Gatesville groups crochets mats out of plastic bags for homeless(Megan Vanselow)
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 11:26 AM CDT
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - The Gatesville Mad Matters have made and donated around 200 mats in the last year to organizations across Central Texas to be distributed to the homeless population to use in extreme weather conditions like high heat or freezing cold.

“Some of the homeless are going into burn wards with 2nd and 3rd degree burns from laying on asphalt or falling asleep on asphalt. These mats will prevent that,” Christina Newman, the founder of the group explained.

Newman says she started the project during the pandemic when she looked around her house at all the plastic bags she had and wanted to find a use for them.

She started reading about people in other parts of the world repurposing bags into mats for the homeless to lay on in extreme weather conditions but she quickly learned her large bag collection wasn’t close to enough for the project.

“It takes 600 HEB size grocery bags to make one mat,” Newman said.

After asking around to friends and coworkers for more bags, Newman recruited help on social media putting the mats together and their Mad Matters group was formed.

Newman says they have roles for everyone, that don’t require any skillsets.

“You have your flatteners, your cutters, the loopers and the people to crochet. Its a real simple stitch” Newman explained.

She says they’ve donated to groups across the region from Gatesville to Harker Heights, Temple and Waco.

They’ve been asked to make mats as large as seven feet, though most are three feet by six feet.

“They can be rinsed off and hung up to dry, they are flea and lice resistant,” Newman said.

She says they’ve heard several stories about how valuable the mats are to the homeless population.

“A pastor gave [a homeless man who fell on hard times] one of the mats and he was thrilled because all he had was his coat to lay on,” Newman recalled.

The group meets every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gatesville Library. The library has also designated a corner inside its front doors for people to drop off clean bags.

Newman says over the last year they have become bag snobs, trying to collect unique colorful bags to make fun designs on the mats.

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