Sleeping Mat Ministry

Immanuel Lutheran Church’s homeless sleeping mat ministry primarily benefits the homeless through our sister church; The Gathering Table at Children’s Memorial, located in downtown Kansas City MO. The Gathering Table assists approximately 125-150 homeless folks lunch every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pastor Ann Rundquist heard about this ministry and asked the ILC Prayer Shawl Team help her get the ministry going and spread the word. Since our inception in late 2014; ILC’s mat ministry has also provided mats to homeless clients of Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries located in Kansas City MO. 

ILC has the joy and privilege of partnering with Youth Works groups during the summer months at our church to help grow this ministry and hopefully encourage volunteer youth leaders to either shepherd this project when they return to their home church or to be inspired to get involved with volunteer agencies within their own communities. ILC is also blessed to work with our Elementary Sunday School youth who participate in weaving mats from time to time during the school year.

ILC is thankful to have partnered with two other local KC metro churches with the collection of plastic bags used in the mat making ministries: Atonement Lutheran Church and Lutheran Church of the Resurrection.

 ***PLEASE RECYCLE RESPONSIBLY!!!  PLEASE NOTE that ILC’s mat ministry is currently NOT accepting recycled bags.***

Our ministry’s motto is to “REUSE, REPURPOSE, RECYCLE, and PAY IT FORWARD”. Therefore, plastic bags collected that cannot directly be used in the weaving of  homeless sleeping mats are repurposed or recycled. (i.g. Smaller bags are used for dog waste or cat litter bags. Larger or heavy-ply plastic bags are repurposed for use at local thrift stores. Any scrap cuttings (or torn bags) from the mat making process are placed in local plastic bag recycling bins.)   

To date, this homeless sleeping mat ministry has completed: 

36 crocheted mats, with 6 starter mats in progress.

Crochet mat facts: 

· 700-1000 sorted/flatten recycled bags per mat (handles/bottom seams removed/recycled; and cut into quarter or thirds strips/loops)

· 6-8 volleyball-basketball size plarn balls per mat

· ¼ to 1/3 skein of 4-ply yarn may be used to strengthen/secure tie and carrying straps to mat

· Approximately 2 weeks (or approximately 20 hrs) of dedication service hours to complete each mat

· Multiple volunteers can help with bag sorting and plarn rolling

· Multiple starter mats can be in progress (crochet group sessions at the volunteer site or taken to an individual’s home(s) for completion at their leisure) 

· Recycle any torn/unusable bags or bag scraps at local recycling bins

22 woven mats, with 2 mats currently in the loom weaving process.

Woven mat facts:

· 1200-1500 recycled bags per mat (dependent on how tightly they are woven)

· Large wooden folding loom (diagram pending)

· 2 bags per loop, 5 loops per loading runner (10 whole bags per starting runner); 42 loading runners on the loom (secured to the screw heads on either side of the loom) 

· (13-20 colored newspaper sleeves; seam end cut off (recycle cuttings), scrunch/loop together and secure to screw head on either side of loom. Used to add color strips to mats)

· 2 bags per loop, 7 loops (average) per weaving runner (14 whole bags per woven runner)

· Loom can be woven on both sides (up to two people can share in the weaving process per side)

· Loom can be laid flat to finish weaving to center

· when starting to weave horizontal runners:

o remember knot off over two vertical runners and leave a 10-12” tail for finishing

o remember to thread through the eye of the loops closest to the screw heads on both sides (this helps to keep the horizontal runners in place for finishing hand crocheting around the edges of the finished mat) 

· make 1 long braided carrying strap that can be loosely woven through finished mat with ends knotted together outside the mat to secure (remember to add 4 ply yarn to braids to strengthen this carrying strap) make 2 braided tie straps (add 4 ply yarn to help strengthen) long enough to wrap around the finished woven mat

· Recycle any torn/unusable bags or bag scraps at local recycling bins

other ILC tips/tricks/facts:

· ILC uses colorful plastic newspaper sleeves (cut in thirds for crocheting or approximately 13-20 whole newspaper sleeves in place of starting runners on the loom) to add 3 stripes within the crocheted mats. (usually 4-5 rows per stripe in the crocheted or woven mat.) of This allows the person distributing the mat to pass on to the homeless person receiving the mat that these strips will not only help them identify their mat, but also that these 3 stripes are meant to symbolize the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; allowing the distributing person to also share with the person receiving the mat the blessing of knowing that God is always with them through all of life’s trials and journeys.

· Mats may be rolled up for carrying/storage

· Mats may be hosed off with water when dirty/soiled

· Mats may be passed on to another person when the owner secures transitional or permanent housing

· Worn/torn/old mats may be recycled in local plastic bag recycling bins 

Our ministry is currently seeking volunteers to learn the weaving process so that we may continue our partnership with Youth Works staff and their awesome volunteer youth groups during the summer of 2018 while our team lead, Kathy Boehmer is taking a sabbatical. If you are interested in learning more about leading these mat weaving groups please contact our church’s office 816-931-8483 to leave your contact information or email .


Click on a file to download.

  YouTube link to KYRS plarn making video:                 

YouTube link to woven mat (milk bag version) video: