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Wyandotte nonprofit organization uses grocery bags to help homeless

Bag Ladies With A Cause turns bags into sleeping mats

WYANDOTTE, Mich. – What do you do with your grocery bags? Do you keep them under the kitchen sink, in a drawer or space in the pantry? A group of woman in a downriver community wants them for the homeless.

It seems like a simple idea: Take your old grocery bags and reuse them. But it's a big-time operation for the Bag Ladies With A Cause in Wyandotte.

"I've never been one where you've got to say, 'Good job, good job,'" said founder Donna Harki. "I just never have, but I've got to say -- I always leave here feeling blessed."

Harki started the nonprofit earlier this year out of the Bacon Library. The organization turns used grocery bags into sleeping mats for the homeless.

"What we do is there's a whole pile of bags, and then they sort them and flatten them out because then they need to be cut," Harki said.

Each woman at each station has a different responsibility, from sorting, to cutting, to tying, to ball rolling and then, eventually, crocheting the sleeping mats together. The group grew quickly to about 45 women, which was important because each sleeping mat takes about 70 hours, or one week, to complete start to finish.

"It takes a huge cue, crochet hook, and it's a lot of work, but I enjoy it and I think most people do," Harki said.

They call it "plarning."

"What does that stand for?" Local 4's Evrod Cassimy asked.

"Plastic yarn," Harki said.

The women meet every Tuesday evening at the library to plarn and chat. What initially started between two friends has brought women from all over their Wyandotte community together as new friends with one main cause.

"Just to help the homeless or the needy," Harki said. "These mats are extremely warm. They are very protective on the ground."

It all started from something as simple as a grocery bag. The Bag Ladies With A Cause are always looking for more "plarners" as well.

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