Mats for a mission: local group makes sleeping mats for homeless

Posted at 4:19 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 00:05:10-04

Local group Buffalo's Good Neighbors is making good use out of plastic bags. Their fist meeting was held Tuesday night, where they made sleeping mats for the homeless from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Julia Boyer Library in Cheektowaga.

"I have goosebumps already," said Gail Potter, the "Mats for a Mission" project coordinator. "This is the best thing that could've taken over my life."

Gail taught herself how to crochet plastic yarn, or 'plarn', through youtube videos. She is now teaching the rest of the group.

"We feel like we have a need to do something," said Gail. "It's just time to give back to the community."

It takes many hands and more than 700 plastic bags to work on just one mat. They're crocheting plastic because that way, the thick mat can survive rainy days and harsh winters.

"If we were to make these out of old t-shirts or something like that then they wouldn't be able to dry them and they would use them maybe once or twice and not be able to use them again," said Amanda Wiezzorek, founder of Buffalo's Good Neighbors.

The group has already brought meals to the homeless in Fireman's Park on Sundays. They were looking for another way to help them during the cold months.

"We spend a lot of time with the homeless through the winter," said Kelly Helmer, co-founder of Buffalo's Good Neighbors. "They do tell us their story and where they sleep. Sometimes there isn't anywhere to sleep."

"You pull up and you see the need, the desperation," said Gail. "When I saw the first mother and child come out, it broke my heart."

Their end goal is to have as many 3 by 6 foot mats as possible, attached to a carrier strap and a tie to roll it up.

"It's important because it makes a difference," said Amanda. "It will change a man's life."

Tuesday night was the first meeting. The future dates for their meetings are as follows:

Tuesday September 20th 6-8:30pm
Monday October 3rd 6-8:30pm
Wednesday October 12th 6-8:30pm
Monday October 24th 6-8:30pm
Monday November 7th 6-8:30pm
Monday November 14th 6-8:30pm

Julia Boyer library
1030 Losson Rd
Cheektowaga NY 14227

They are asking anybody who is coming out to bring scissors and crochet hooks size 10 or larger.

The group says no experience is needed.