Woman uses grocery bags to weave hundreds of mats for the homeless

Woman uses grocery bags to weave hundreds of mats for the homeless

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Every week dozens of women, and a few men, gather inside Faith Westwood United Methodist Church to do something that may seem strange to most. The group collects, sorts, de-wrinkles, and smooths out plastic grocery bags. The bags are a common item many people may consider trash, but this group puts them to good use.

The group weaves them into sturdy, and rather comfortable mats that are delivered to homeless shelters throughout the winter. So often, the homeless shelters in the metro are filled to capacity and people are forced to sleep on the floor. Rather than sleeping on cold concrete, these mats provide some comfort to those who need it most.

It takes more than 1,000 plastic bags to make one mat. Hundreds have been made, but one woman can lay claim to more than anyone else. Marilynn Jones has become known as the “plastic bag weaving” pro.

“They tell me I’ve done 248. I don’t keep track,” she said. It’s no surprise she’s humble, considering for her, it’s second nature. Marilynn Learned to quilt 70 years ago. The first afghan she ever made, with the help of her grandmother, hangs in her home.

But she didn’t start experimenting with the plastic bags until about two years ago. “I do this mainly…I lost my husband 2 years ago, and that's when I started. I needed something to do with my hands and it worked out real well for me,” she said.

She’ll tell you no act of kindness is too small, when some people haven’t seen much kindness in their lives at all. “I think the fact that I’m making something worthwhile, where I know where it goes and people that use it need it -- I don't like to just crochet for an afghan or something - that doesn't help me - I just need to do something for someone else,” she said.

It takes a lot of people weeks to make one bag. Marilyn usually knocks out 2 every week. “I started this one at 11:30 this morning and I’ll be done with it before I go to bed tonight.

Not only does it fill a void in her heart, but more importantly blessing hundreds of others at the same time.

“It’s a very rewarding thing to do.”