CCW and parishioners help homeless

CCW members and volunteers make homeless mats out of plastic grocery bags. The time consuming task is a labor of love, taking hours of cutting, knotting, and crocheting for each mat. (COURTESY)

CLERMONT | Six years ago the Council of Catholic Women spread their ministry to Blessed Sacrament Parish in Clermont. This year, unable to meet due to COVID-19, the organization that supports and educates Catholic women in spirituality and service, sought out a charity they could assist despite social distancing. What came to fruition were mats for the homeless made with plastic grocery bags and lots of love.

Nilda Davila, who discovered the mats on YouTube, said the project “has blossomed into an opportunity for many to get involved in helping the less fortunate.” Several CCW members are crocheting the mats and assisting with folding, cutting and knotting the strips. Eager to help, several high school students, and faith formation families have jumped in. Davila said they hope to attach water bottles filled with socks, Band-Aids, and more to the sleeping mats.

“We believe it is important to reach out to meet the needs of the homeless community by providing them with protection from the elements and to provide comfort,” Mary Ellen Pollock, president of the Blessed Sacrament chapter of the CCW said. “We hope to teach the faith formation families and high school students the importance of helping the poor by providing them with a place to sleep.”

To date they have made more than 10 mats and plan to continue working through the end of the year. If that sounds like very few, it’s worth noting each mat is a time-consuming labor of love requiring anywhere from 700 to 1,000 bags. They must be cut into strips, made into plarn (plastic yarn), knotted and crocheted. Then CCW member Kathy Halpin makes and adds a handle for ease of portability.

Halpin coordinated with the Dorcas Ministry to distribute the mats to those living on the streets. The Christian organization works to house the homeless and assists individuals with finding employment. They collected the first stack of mats and distributed them Nov. 20 to homeless near Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. Halpin noted, “At this point, our country seems so divided. We’ve lost some of this idea of treating your neighbor well. We’ve become isolated as to who we think our neighbors are. Jesus did say, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, not just those who share your common residence or beliefs.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, December 1, 2020