Transforming ordinary plastic bags into sleeping mats and pillows for the homeless will be taught at public schools across Windsor-Essex if Sophan Buffa gets her way.
This week, the General Brock Public School teacher held her second 'Plarn Party.' She hopes to take her plastic yarn skills to elementary and high school students in the region. The goal is to create an assembly line of youngsters who can help with each time-consuming step.
"There are a lot of schools and a lot of kids out there that want to give back, but they're not sure how to do that," said Buffa. "This is such a great way to do it where everyone can participate, it doesn't limit anybody."
What is 'plarn?'
Between 400 and 600 plastic bags are needed to make just one mat and pillow. It starts out with stacking and flattening 20 plastic bags, which are then folded and cut into strips. Those are knotted together and rolled into a 'plarn' ball, similar to yarn. Then it's ready to be crocheted.
The final product is a sleeping mat, which helps keep the cold out. It's also equipped with an attached pillow and strap for easy carrying.
Street Help to receive much-needed plastic pillows
Since Street Help Homeless Centre in Windsor is fully stocked with the mats, so the group is focusing on pillows. They're crocheted the same way and stuffed with plastic bag scraps, so 100 per cent of the plastic bag is being used.
"I know they're not the big standard pillows and we don't want them to be," said Street Help administrator Christine Wilson-Furlonger. "If you're sleeping on a park bench, sometimes people lay down on the ledges around our building, and there's only enough room for that little pillow."
It's a small gesture, but a great comfort that will go a long way, she said. And being in the same room to meet the people behind the donation is a special feeling that isn't always possible.
"Their gift is tremendous," Wilson-Furlonger said.
Buffa plans to do short lunch and learn sessions at different schools to teach them all about plarn. It's something that's "easy and doable" that Buffa said will teach children and teens how to give back to those who may not have a warm bed to call their own.
Anyone interested in donating bags or volunteering to help can contact organizer Sophan Buffa by emailing email@example.com.