Cedar Rapids volunteers knit plastic bags into mats.

Cedar Rapids volunteers knit plastic bags into sleeping mats.

A group of women from a eastern Iowa church is on a mission to help the homeless, while saving plastic bags from entering the landfill.

The women are crocheting sleeping mats out of used plastic bags. Deb Rempfer told KCRG-TV that most people are surprised to see the quality of the finished product.

“They just can’t believe that we did that out of bags,” Rempfer said. “It’s just something how you can take something so simple, put it into something and make it so useful.”

The group started the project at Saint John Lutheran Church in Newhall around one year ago after one of the ladies learned how to crochet the plastic bags into mats at a conference. They only asked church members to donate plastic bags one time.

Since then, they’ve never had a shortage. The women spend hours on end cutting the bags, tying them and then wrapping them into balls of plastic yarn, or “plarn,” as the call it. And they call themselves “the bag ladies.” The plastic sleeping mats are delivered to the homeless in Chicago and the Mission of Hope in Cedar Rapids.

“You don’t even know the people that get them, but yet, you know you are doing something for someone else, to help them out,” Rempfer said.

By Jill Kasperie, KCRG-TV