Mats for homeless, crocheted by residents of Bow Valley Villa in Oxbow, are ready to be delivered

The residents of the Bow Valley Villa in Oxbow have been working together for quite a few months in an effort to help the less fortunate. And now handmade, durable, soft and water-resistant mats for homeless people are completed.

Since Christmas, some residents were collecting plastic bags and turning them into plarn, also known as plastic yarn, while Ida Scott and Frieda Sombrutzki, along with Kate Johnston and Sharon East, who work at Bow Valley Villa, were crocheting the plastic yarn into big cloths. Then Johnston and East finished off the edgings of the mats and crochet beautiful carry straps. 

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The six mats, formed into backpacks, are ready to serve those who may need them. They will be delivered to Siloam Mission, a shelter in Winnipeg, and Sara Adams, who is the activity director of this non-profit retirement/assisted living complex in Oxbow, is planning to take them up there in October.

Scott and Sombrutzki made two mats each, and Johnston and East made two more. This activity helped residents keep busy during the long days of self-isolation. The project was planned to go all year long but was completed a bit faster.

“Probably it would have been nice to go a full year with it, but it was quite a difficult medium to crochet with,” said Adams.

Adams won’t be able to deliver mats earlier since the shelter doesn’t accept donations at this point due to COVID-19. Even though there is some time left, residents decided not to make any more mats due to the difficulty of the material.

Instead, Adams is now looking into the next craft initiative that will help those who don’t have a roof over their heads. 

“I hope the community will get behind it. It involves recycling chip packets, chip bags,” said Adams.

bow valley villa
For their next project residents started collecting crisp packets to make sleeping bag covers for the homeless. Photo submitted

She is now on the search for people to drop off their clean chip bags and also clear plastics. Adams found the idea on social media and decided to give it a try. It involves melting the clean chip bags together and using old clear plastic front and back to coat the chip bags. Once two three by six foot panels are made, they seal the end and two sides together to make a foil-lined sleeping bag cover for those sleeping rough on the streets.

“We are hoping to get that up and running,” said Adams. “It’s a little less labour intensive.”

Different programs and the plastic mat project helped the residents to stay involved during the past few months.

“It’s been tough,” said Adams. “We are fortunate that none of us had to be confined in a room, but we still were physically distancing. And not seeing the family is the biggest problem.”

While everything is reopening and the residents now can see their families again while keeping distance, it was nice to have the programming going that kept them busy. Now Adams hopes that she’ll be able to source enough plastic from the local people and businesses to have residents engaged again with the new project.

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