Lincoln Manor residents make sleeping mats out of plastic bags to donate to Miss Carly’s

‘The people here are rockstars. I'm so floored at what they've done. It's absolutely amazing’


ROCHELLE — Residents of Lincoln Manor have spent the past two months making sleeping mats from recycled plastic shopping bags to donate to Miss Carly's, a non-profit dedicated to the homeless in Rockford.

Woven Together is an outreach ministry recently started through the Steward United Methodist Church Women In Faith. Lincoln Manor offers the activity to residents each Thursday at 1 p.m. in its community room. The same work is being done at the Hub City Senior Center as well.

“This all stemmed off a project we did collecting items for Miss Carly's in Rockford,” Laura Salazar of the Steward UMC group said. “One of our group members mentioned the plastic bag mats for the unhoused. I looked it up and we started doing it there. I walked to the manager at Lincoln Manor about trying it here. The people here are rockstars. I'm so floored at what they've done. It's absolutely amazing.”

The process starts with cutting off the tops and bottoms of plastic bags, and then cutting the bags in half before tying them together. They’re then woven together using peg looms. Area residents can donate clean plastic bags for the sleeping mat making by dropping them off at Lincoln Manor or the senior center. For more information, call, Lincoln Manor at 815-562-1404

“We've already donated two and we've made 14 total,” Salazar said of the work at Lincoln Manor. “It takes 500 plastic bags to make a mat. We go to Walmart every day to clean out the recycling bin to get plastic bags. Some people have donated them to us. Walmart, Schnucks, Dollar General and Benny's Corner Market have donated bags to us.”

Salazar said as soon as the sleeping mats arrive at Miss Carly’s, they’re all gone the same day. The mats are lightweight and can easily be carried. Lincoln Manor residents Donna Ferrari, Joanne Roberts, Linda Cheatham and Jim Boulton remarked that they’ve enjoyed the work that helps the less fortunate. 

The project also acts as a sustainable use for plastic bags.

“Plastic bags aren't easy to dispose of properly,” Salazar said. “Using them for this actually helps the planet. This year's Earth Week theme was planet vs. plastics. We're keeping all of these bags out of the landfill and giving these mats to the unhoused so they don't have to sleep on the ground. Seniors are usually on limited incomes. They can't as easily donate money or food. By giving their time and making these, I don't think you can ask for more. It allows them to socialize and do something good at the same time. Hopefully we'll get more people to join.”