Volunteer Polk makes plastic bag mats for homeless

Posted at 6:04 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 18:04:59-04

Volunteer Polk has come up with a new idea to keep the homeless warm this season and they’re asking for your helping hands.

Crocheting plastic bag together to make a heavy, water-proof mat is the new initiative to comfort those who may be homeless in Polk County.

The program kicked off Friday in Bartow where the team of volunteers is asking for all the plastic bags they can get their hands on.

Each mat takes about 700 plastic bags. And although it may not sound comfortable or beautiful, it’s actually both.

ABC Action News stopped by Volunteer Polk and found people hard at work, with only one mat made up so far.

“I’ve never crocheted before,” Skyler Gardner admitted, “Today is actually my first day learning,” she said.

Both Gardner and her sister, Carlin Gardner, said they’ve done countless jobs together volunteering.

“It's a lot easier than I thought actually,” Skyler said.

Despite a beginning crocheter or a long-term expert in yarn twirling, any experience is welcome to come and help.

Time however, is another story. Along with the 700 bags needed to make one mat, it’s estimated it takes around 50 hours to create one.

“We began at three or four,” Carlin said.

The end goal is make about 100 mats and hand them out to the homeless by December.

ABC Action News checked to see if there is any environmental impact by purposely putting out the plastic bags into the streets. But, unlike cities like St. Pete, which is considering a plastic bag ban, Polk County does not have a ban. And manager of Volunteer Polk says this will actually improve the environment.

“It's a great choice environmentally that these are not going to the landfill,” Janet Bartuska said.

To donate bags or to volunteer, call (863) 534-5580 or email