As the weather begins to dip lower into freezing temperatures, and people in Texoma begin bundling up for the cold weather across the weekend, members of a local church are giving back to the homeless of the region while looking out for the environment.

As the weather begins to dip lower into freezing temperatures, and people in Texoma begin bundling up for the cold weather across the weekend, members of a local church are giving back to the homeless of the region while looking out for the environment.


Members of Grace United Methodist Church have been creating sleeping mats for homeless residents of Sherman and Denison using an unlikely material: recycled plastic grocery bags. By cutting the bags into long strips, they are able to twist it into a material that is suitable for crocheting the mats.


"We call it plarn, like plastic yarn," said Vicki Busby, who helped start the ministry within the church.


Each mat is 6 feet by 3 feet, complete with handles, so it can be easily carried, and comes with a plastic tag.


Busby got the idea after seeing a demonstration during a summer class at Austin College called "Mission u," organized by United Methodist Women of the North Texas Conference. She decided to start making the mats as a form of ministry in 2012.


Since then, Busby has held classes within the church on how to make the mats.


"It is our charge as Christians to help the poor and homeless," she said, citing ministry to the poor as one of the four focuses within the United Methodist Church.


Each mat requires anywhere from 500 to 700 grocery bags, which are donated by members of the church, and takes about 40 hours of work to construct, said Busby.


"It takes quite a while to get it done," she said.


Within the church, the ministry has produced over two dozen of the plastic mats, which have been distributed to the Grand Central Station Dining Car in Sherman, and to the homeless in Denison by members of Grace United Methodist Church.


Busby said that the ministry has involved a large variety of people. "We have had men, women and youth involved in making them," she said.


Busby ultimately decided on the plastic material for the sleeping mats because it would be more durable than cloth or other materials.


"It gives them a cushion of comfort, protects them from the moisture on the ground and is washable with a hose," she said.