Sheryl Jones’ 8th grade class at Kilmer Middle School in Tysons Corner learned about building an attitude of gratitude through appreciating one good thing in their life every day.
Then something clicked for the students.
They realized that not everyone is so fortunate, and they could show real gratitude by giving back to those less fortunate. They started a service project using a readily available everyday disposable item that could serve a new purpose for people who are homeless.
Using plastic grocery bags, the students made sleeping mats to provide a weatherproof barrier against the cold ground. Jones also used the sleeping mats project as an opportunity to discuss recycling and how plastic can provide insulation by trapping heat to provide some warmth.
In early November, students enlisted the Kilmer Middle School community for donations of plastic grocery bags since each mat required approximately 800 bags to make. Each mat took eight to 10 hours to weave. Some students were tasked with cutting off the bags’ handles and splitting the seams while others wove the 6 x 3.5 feet mats.
The sleeping mats were donated to Homeless Hope, a local nonprofit that provides clothing and supplies to those in need. The mats were given to homeless individuals in December.