‘Bag Ladies’ upcycle for the homeless

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • rebecca-z@citizenstandard.com

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Rebecca Zemencik/Citizen-Standard Photo The ‘Bag Ladies’ meet twice a month, the first and third Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Erdman. They are upcycling plastic bags to make bed mats for homeless shelters and those in need. The public is encouraged to join them and learn what upcycling is all about.

ERDMAN – A new group has formed at Zion Lutheran Church, Erdman, and the public is invited to come and learn what this upcycling group is doing.
‘The Bag Ladies,’ as they refer to themselves is a group of women, (only because no men have attended yet, but they are welcome too), gather the first and third Mondays of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. and transform plastic bags into items that people can use.
Lena Long has been upcycling plastic bags for almost 20 years and she finally brought the idea to the church.
“I don’t really remember how I got into doing this,” said Lena. “I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’d make a bag, or a mat and then I’d stick it in the attic and forget about it.”
Sandy Williard saw how to upcycle bags on one of those DIY channels on TV and that’s how she learned to do it. One year she created gift bags out of plastic bags for all her Christmas presents.
Both Lena and Sandy also know how to create purses from the plastic bags. Sandy said it takes about two evenings to create a purse.


The group started gathering at the church in October and at the first meeting, Jackie Deibert, also a member of the church and an upcycler took a photo of the group and posted it on the church’s Facebook page, Klingerstown Lutheran Parish and the post went viral. Deibert said there were over 4,500 likes in a few days. She said the church was also contacted by a student at Lycoming College who wanted more information.
The ladies save their plastic bags from the grocery store and cut them into strips to form plarn (plastic yarn), they then use a large crocheting hook to create plastic mats to hand out to homeless shelters.
“It takes about 500 to 700 bags to make one mat,” said Lena.”
The group says they aren’t in need of bags, but they would like more people to join their group and help create the mats.
They plan to distribute the mats to homeless shelters in Harrisburg, Pottsville, and wherever there is a need for them.
“We are always mindful of the environment,” said Deibert.

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