Blanket Ministry

Sleeping Pads for the Homeless

This ministry is a partnership between Winamac First UMC and Roberts Park UMC. The following was written by Barbara Kleinofen of Winamac First UMC:
    In the fall of 2015 a friend posted on FACEBOOK that the local DAR (Daughter’s of the American Revolution) group was making sleeping pads for the homeless and needed more plastic grocery bags and Mary was willing to receive the bags at her home – so,  the word was put out at church one Sunday and in THE MESSENGER (our monthly newsletter) for people to save their plastic grocery bags, which they did – LOTS AND LOTS OF BAGS were taken to our friends home and in the spring it became obvious that the DAR could use some help straightening and cutting the bags, so I asked Mary to come and show us how this was done….of course sweet goodies, coffee and tea were offered at our “work party” and we learned how to straighten the bags and then, using a cutting mat and a rotary cutter, we learned to cut the necessary 2 inch strips that would then be tied together (in a loop knot) and then rolled into PARN – plastic yarn balls.
    We did that for a month or so and then it was decided that WE could help make the pads too, so another lady came and showed us how to crochet the pads using a size N crochet hook.  Each pad is to be approximately 3 feet by 6 feet.  When the pads are crocheted, the thickness is about 3/4″ to 1″ thick, which gives some cushion to the bare ground or cement that someone is lying on.
     The DAR was having trouble finding a “home” for their completed pads and I contacted Robert’s Park United Methodist Church in downtown Indianapolis, who I knew has a large homeless ministry, and they were VERY interested in partnering with us with this project. In June, 2016, several ladies began meeting twice a month to work on the SLEEPING PADS FOR THE HOMELESS project.  Some would straighten the bags, some would cut strips while others would tie the strips and roll them into the PARN balls.  A few of the ladies were able to start crocheting the pads and a new ministry was well on it’s way.
     A generous donation was made to the project which enables us to purchase a heavy fleece to cut into blankets to go with the completed pad.  The fleece is machine edged to give them a little more stability.  A 6 foot  “carrying strap” is also included with the finished pad and blanket.  The strap loops around the pad and can then be slung over the shoulder for easy carrying.
     Several community members from different groups that use our Fellowship Hall became aware of this project and have also joined us.  Some workdays we may have 5 or 6 ladies while other Thursdays we may have 12 or more.  Several of the ladies take bags home to straighten and cut, other tie the strips at home and most of the crocheting is done at home too.
    The first delivery of pads was made this past fall and more fleece was purchased for blankets and in February, 6 more completed pads/blankets and straps were delivered and another delivery will be made in May.  A member of our congregation and community member has to make a monthly trip to Indianapolis, and has generously offered to deliver the completed pads to Robert’s Park UMC for us.
    This ministry has become a COMMUNITY PROJECT and one that while it is unfortunate that it is needed, we can do something to help others less fortunate and the Winamac First UMC is grateful to ALL who are helping with this ministry in so many ways. We gather on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month from 10:00 to 12:00 in the Fellowship Hall.  We can always use more bag straighteners, strip cutters, strip tiers and PARN rollers and crocheters. If you have a sewing machine, you can help out by edging the fleece blankets – so there are lots of ways to be of use.
    As of July, 2017, we have delivered 22 completed SLEEPING PADS and  BLANKETS to Robert’s Park UMC for use in their homeless ministry.
It does show how, with one simple “POST”  people can and will pull together to help one out.