Giving Back with New Life for Old Bags

finished mats New Life For Old Bags finished mats

One of my goals for 2016 is to give back to my community more. I've been thinking about this for over a year and finally committed to volunteering in late December but was unsure where to start. I heard a commercial on WBEZ for Chicago Cares and thought it was serendipitous. I signed up on their website, found several opportunities that sounded fun so I committed to two; one in January and one in February.

cutting plastic bagscut plastic bags

New Life for Old Bags was my second & by far my favorite volunteer opportunity. It was amazing. The organization makes mats for homeless people out of old plastic bags. The community is huge and very inspiring. I volunteered on a Saturday morning, at a local church. The hall was full of volunteers. I spent most of my time folding, then cutting bags and tying them together to finally make balls of "yarn". Once the yarn was made it's passed off to volunteers who crochet the mats. It takes approximately 700 old plastic bags to make one mat. So much loves goes into each mat & so many hands touch each piece, each one is a labor of love.

 plastic yarn balls plastic bag "yarn"

My tasks were not glamorous by any means but the organizers really make you feel like you're making a difference. Each volunteer had an important task to contribute and no time was wasted. The energy of the volunteers was extraordinary, ages ranged from 8 to people in their 70's, maybe even 80's. To inspire volunteers they have creative samples hung up and piles of finished mats for you to see.

patterned matinspiration mat

It was the perfect way to start my weekend. I'm thankful I found the opportunity and am excited to go back in March!


  • Jane MIze

    Do you have written instructions you could send to me on how to make sleeping mats for the homeless.?

  • Lisa Grenemeier

    This sounds like something that I would like to introduce to my LWML ladies (Lutheran Woman Missionary League) to see if they would be interested. Could you please send me more info on this project

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