Sleeping mats for homeless made from plastic grocery bags

A sleeping mat made entirely from plastic grocery bags. (KETK)

LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) — A ministry in East Texas is doing its part to help the area’s homeless population.

Since January, Made to Love Ministries and its volunteers have been making sleeping mats using only plastic grocery bags.

sleeping mat
A sleeping mat made entirely from plastic grocery bags. (KETK)

Pamela Benson started making the mats at Christmastime.

“I started them at Christmas because there was a man who died of exposure here in Longview and it really touched my heart and I thought ‘surely somebody could have done something’,” she explained.

Benson said once her story got out, others wanted to help too.

“We put it out there and churches have got involved. There [are] five churches in Longview that are doing it in their own churches now,” she said.

It takes more than 500 plastic bags to make one mat so it’s important everyone works together.

“The more people you have doing this, the faster the homeless people will have something,” said volunteer Jean Armstrong.

“There’s a lot of homeless people sleeping on the ground and getting sick,” volunteer Judy Peltier added. “If they aren’t sleeping on the ground, they can sleep on these and not get sick.”

As long as there are homeless on the streets, the “bag ladies,” as the group calls themselves, will continue their work.

Andrea Dollahite, founder of Made to Love Ministries, is collecting the bags.

She said, “We probably have thousands of bags and I’m getting them in the mail, people are leaving them in my office, people are bringing them here, so it just tells you how much good there is in the world.”

At the Green Street Recreation Center, where many of the mats are made, they’ve designated the second Wednesday of every month “mats for the homeless” day.