Students use plastic bags to help homeless population in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A group of kids in central Indiana is using plastic bags to help homeless people in downtown Indianapolis.

Church of the Lakes in Nineveh started the project and students at Franklin Community Middle School got involved.

They cut plastic bags into strips and then roll them up, creating "plarn," or plastic yarn. They turn it into sleeping mats and pillows.


"I saw on Facebook a project where people were making these mats for the homeless and it just seemed like a great idea and a great way to use plastic bags that might otherwise go to the dumps," said Vonda Mercer, Church of the Lakes. "So in April, some of my friends at church started collecting bags and some of the retailers in the area donated some boxes of bags to get us going."

"It makes you feel really good because you know you're doing something good for your community," said Emmaly Taylor, seventh grader. "You know you’re making a difference in people’s lives because most of the time they’re sleeping on the ground or you never know where they’re going to be sleeping, so they have something they know is just more sanitary than just sleeping on the ground."

The students make an assembly line. Each mat and pillow takes at least a few hundred grocery bags.

"I've done most of the roles!" said Emma Smith, seventh grader. "I’ve cut the bags. I've tied them into the plarn and I’ve crocheted some pillows. I really like this program because it allows me to help other people."

"It means a lot to know I'm helping other people and I'm not just helping myself all the time," said Olivia Stone, seventh grader. "I can really make a difference."

The goal is 100 mats. They're not quite there yet, but they're getting close. They plan to hand them out to homeless men, women and children in downtown Indianapolis in November.

"Our church actually goes up to Indianapolis to help feed the homeless once a month so we will probably meet them that way," said Mercer. "We wanted to get 100 bags made so that we could give one to every person that comes and not leave anybody out, so that’s why we’re doing 100 to start with."

Click here to check out the group's Facebook page and keep up with the progress.