This fall, the AT&T Pioneers, a network of active employee and retired volunteers, launched a community service project to upcycle plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. As the project lead, I was touched, but not surprised, that our employees gathered from around the country to spend more than 300 hours sorting, folding, cutting, weaving, rolling and crocheting plastic grocery bags into sleeping mats. About 500 bags (which you can accumulate easily if you save them after trips to the grocery store!) go into making each mat, which can withstand all kinds of weather, are lightweight and easy to roll, and provide protection from gravel and dirt.
My goal is to provide a little comfort for the homeless – especially those on the harsh streets.
After the launch, the Pioneers took their new skills back to their offices around the country and held workshops to teach their colleagues how to make the mats. As the mats are completed, they are given directly to local charities that support the homeless community. My fellow Pioneer, Ella Mallard, and her local volunteers in Virginia completed over 60 mats. Ella feels good knowing that the mats she made could be assisting those in need in her own community. I share this sentiment. My goal is to provide a little comfort for the homeless – especially those on the harsh streets.
Due to the amazing support from our colleagues, the Pioneers are committed to continuing this project through 2015. We plan to expand this project beyond the walls of AT&T and bring it to our external organizations, schools, churches and clubs. Through social media we will provide the opportunity for volunteers to share progress and ideas across the nation. This project brings people together to help others and reduce our impact on the environment. If we enhance visibility of the project, we can increase participation and impact.
This is a relatively simple and easy way to not only support your community but also keep plastic bags from ending up in landfills or littering our streets. Get in touch with your local homeless shelter to see if there is a need for sleeping mats in your community. To learn how to make the mats, you can watch our demonstration video.