Appomattox Co., VA - For many of the ladies at Spout Spring Baptist Church, a mission trip just wasn't an option. So, about a month ago they started crocheting plastic bags into mats and Tuesday the first few were donated to Gleaning for The World.
It's a service project woven in friendship and fellowship.
"I've learned that people can make a big difference," said Lindsey Richardson, who learned how to crochet as a volunteer.
Since Sally Shaffer came up with the idea to crochet mats using plastic bags, and it has tied this group of ladies to other churches, including one in Northern Virginia.
"Their ladies have started working on saving the bags and rolling them and actually sending them to us," Shaffer said.
The bags are cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces, tied together, rolled into a ball, and then the crocheting can begin.
Volunteers say it's a lot harder than it looks. It takes 36 hours and 500 to 700 plastic bags to make a single mat. But for the ladies at Spout Spring Baptist Church, the hard work is worth it.
"My fingers get a little tired sometimes," Martha Mitchell, cutting the bags into strips.
"Then I say, 'Well we pray that the person that uses the mat will find Jesus as their personal Savior.' And that's the inspiration that keeps me going," she said.
They handed over the first half dozen mats to Gleaning For The World -- their way of bringing comfort to people half a world away.
Daphne Inge of Gleaning For The World says the mats will come in useful during natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti.
"Those guys were sleeping on the mud, so this would be very beneficial in situations like that," Inge said.
"Just the satisfaction of knowing that there's gonna be at least one person that's gonna have a dry place to sleep, it's just amazing," said Karin Robertson, one of the volunteers.
Volunteers say the most difficult bags to crochet come from Big Lots. The mats are waterproof, reusable and would otherwise end up in the landfill.
If you're interested in donating bags, time, or money contact the Spout Spring Baptist Church at 434-352-5530.