The sleeping bag ministry will begin its 2016 season on Monday, September 12 from 6:00 to 8:00pm. We gather in the basement (Fellowship Hall) of Calvary UMC at 6:00pm, share a meal, and get to work by 6:30pm. The sleeping bags are made from recycled materials, stuffed with personal items such as toothpaste, shampoo, hats and gloves then distributed to nearby homeless shelters. The team is also working on plastic mats made from plastic grocery bags, so you can see there is plenty to do. No sewing experience needed; if you can tie a knot, you can make a sleeping bag! Please consider joining us on Monday evenings. Questions? Please contact Lynn Sevick or Joan Bradley. Thank you!
Ugly Quilt Project
On Monday evenings from 6:00-8:00pm, September through November and January through April, you will find several of Calvary's members gathered in Calvary's Fellowship Hall to make sleeping bags for those who live on the streets in Pittsburgh. Calvary's Missions Team has teamed with "My Brother's Keeper" to make sleeping bags out of recycled materials for the homeless.
"My Brother's Keeper" (a.k.a. "The Ugly Quilt Project") began over 30 years ago at the home of Flo and Jim Wheatley. Flo and her 13 year old son, Leonard, had to travel to New York City from Hop Bottom, PA for Leonard's cancer treatments. During one of those visits, Flo was struggling to carry her luggage through the rain while caring for her sick son who was vomiting on the streets of New York City. As people rushed by them, a complete stranger, a homeless man, stopped and said to Flo, "Lady, you need help." He carried Flo's luggage to her destination, then turned to her and said, "Please don't abandon me." He walked out of Flo's life as quickly as he had entered it. Flo felt a need to pay the man back and the idea of making sleeping bags from recycled materials was born. Since that day over 30 years ago, "My Brother's Keeper" has grown and there are sewing groups all over the country. And we are happy to report that Leonard is alive and well and living in Hop Bottom, PA near his parents.
This past year, Calvary's sleeping bag group delivered over 70 sleeping bags to homeless shelters in the Pittsburgh area, most of which have gone to Light of Life Rescue Mission on the North Side and Shepherd's Heart Veteran's Home on Pride Street near Mercy Hospital. The group stuffs each of the ugly quilts with a health kit that includes travel-sized shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, hats, and gloves when available.
The group ends each gathering with Flo's Roll-Up Prayer over the sleeping bags:
"Lord, take the work of our hands and bless it and in Thy name, let the person that receives this gift know that he is loved. Amen."
Old Blankets Needed
We are in need of old blankets that can be recycled into sleeping bags for the homeless. Please consider donating old blankets to our project. Please see Lynn Sevick if you have any questions.
Plastic Bags Needed
We are in need of plastic bags that can be crocheted into mats for sleeping bags for the homeless. 500 to 700 plastic bags are needed for each mat. Please bring them to the church.
Crocheters Needed to Make Sleep Mats for the Sleeping Bags
The group that makes the quilts for the homeless is looking for persons who are able to crochet. There are directions for using the plastic grocery bags to crochet a plastic mat which keeps the quilts off the ground keeping the quilt drier. There are already rolls of "plastic yarn" ready to be used and needles are available. If you can crochet or want to learn please contact Joan Bradley. We would love to give a plastic mat with every quilt but are in desperate need of persons who crochet.
- You will need approximately 500-700 plastic grocery bags for each mat.
- You will need a crochet hook, size M or larger.
- Finished size is 24 X 72 inches.
- To make the "yarn", smooth out the grocery bag, fold it in half lengthwise twice and cut off seamed bottom and top handles/hanging tabs. Fold in half and cut across, repeat. This will give you 4 loops. Take a loop and insert another loop, then bring the rest through to attach (remember how you strung rubber bands together as a child?). Repeat then wind your "string" of connected loops into a ball. Don't make the ball too big to handle. I usually work with one full bag of grocery bags and make three or four balls out of it then repeat until I run out of bags.
- Make the mat chain 72 inches using the doubled looped strands of grocery bags. Single crochet until the mat is 24 inches wide.
- To make a carrying strap, chain a length long enough to go around the rolled mat and slide on, connect that chain into a loop with a single crochet then chain a length long enough to cross your back, go over your shoulder and reach the other end of the mat. Chain an additional length equal to the first loop and attach with a single crochet.
- YouTube videos are online for viewing. Simple Google "sleeping mats for the homeless" or you can watch this tutorial here - Plastic Bag Sleeping Mats for the Homeless Tutorial.