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West Allis group turning plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless

Posted at 9:29 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 03:21:43-05

WEST ALLIS — After reaching out to many people to learn about positive things happening in the community, tons suggested that I visit a group of volunteers in West Allis that are helping the environment and homeless at the same time.

“I am making a sleeping mat for the homeless," Donna Reimesch said.

Mercy Mats West Allis
How a finished mercy mat looks after many hours of crocheting.

She is one of the co-founders of the group Mercy Mats West Allis which was started in 2013. Most Wednesdays, the group meets at the West Allis library on 7421 W. National Ave. to crochet plastic bags into sleeping mats, which can double as a blanket too.

“They’re not only for the homeless out on the streets, they’re also used in the shelters.”

All the mats are given to the shelter Repairers of the Breach in Milwaukee. So far, the group has made over 800 mats. Each mat uses about 700 bags, so that means they have kept 560,000 plastic bags from ending up in landfills, oceans, lakes, forests, and sewers.

Mercy Mats West Allis
A handful of volunteers come to the West Allis library every Wednesday to help out. Before the pandemic, they peaked at about 30 volunteers.

“And I just feel like I’m putting the plastic to really good use.”

Now, you finally have a use for all those plastic bags under your sink. You can get involved by visiting the group's Facebook page.

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