Crescent Park Elementary students display sleeping mats that they crocheted out of plastic grocery bags in an effort to help comfort those in Metro Vancouver who are homeless. Below

‘Inspiring’ effort aims to soften slumber for homeless

A group of South Surrey boys delivered some comfort for the homeless this week

One challenge of being homeless – having to sleep outside – will soon be softened for a handful of people in that situation, thanks to the dedicated efforts of a dozen South Surrey boys.

The Grade 5 friends – Eli Chuback, Mason MacGregor, Ben Dobson, Julius Tome, Spencer Brine, Oliver Botelho, Kendall Homenick, Jacob Spence, Trevor Iannacone, Evan Baker, Dylan Homenick and Flynn Cavanagh – all students at Crescent Park Elementary, spent hundreds of hours over the past several months crafting sleeping mats out of plastic bags.

For those who receive them, they will provide a buffer from the wet, cold ground.

Tuesday, the determined students presented six of the mats, including one sized for a pet, to officials at Sources Newton Resource Centre, where the agency’s homelessness and advocacy services are located.

The gesture was “amazing,” said Jeanette Grimmer, a Surrey resident who knows all too well how it feels to have to sleep outside.

Grimmer said she told the boys how she’d lived in a tent in Vancouver for 2½ years, collecting empty bottles to afford food, before finding housing in Surrey’s Chimney Heights neighbourhood last year. While she has a bed now, in Vancouver she would sleep on such things as a yoga-type mat or, if she was lucky, an air mattress.

Receiving a mat like those the boys donated “would’ve helped a little bit, keep us dry,” she told Peace Arch News.

Such gestures, she said, “makes you feel good because people are aware… They don’t know how bad it is, but it’s nice because people want to help.”

The students took a shine to the idea of helping the homeless earlier this year, and began gathering every Monday afternoon in their school library to turn plastic grocery bags into sleeping mats.

After learning how to crochet from volunteers at Alexandra Neighbourhood House, they transformed the bags into ‘plarn’ – yarn made from strips of plastic – and set to the task.

Each mat used 700-800 bags, took about 100 hours to craft, is lightweight and portable, and has a strap for easy transport.

The boys also signed cards that will be delivered with each mat, with sentiments such as “hope you sleep well,” “sweet dreams,” “stay safe” and “I hope this mat makes your life a little bit easier.”

Sources’ Housing First worker Bruce Foster is confident that will be the case.

“Definitely, we do work with people who will benefit from them,” Foster said Wednesday. “They’re going to come in handy.”

In addition to being “a great re-use of a non-recyclable material,” the mat project was uplifting to those who work with the homeless, Foster said.

“I haven’t seen kids that age directly involved in something so beneficial for people who are homeless. It’s inspiring… to see younger people and their awareness for wanting to help.”

Surrey, he noted, has the second-highest population of homeless people in the province, behind Vancouver.

Crescent Park principal David A’Bear described what the boys did – from coming up with an idea to help, to delivering the mats themselves – as “incredible.”

“We’re so proud of these boys. They’ve really taken an idea, brought it to fruition, brought it to reality,” A’Bear said.

“The new curriculum is really about real-life applications and I think in this case you really saw a real-life impact. It’s been an incredible journey for these guys.”

Jeanette Grimmer

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade floods Newton streets

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the annual event

Setting the stage for emerging performers

Variety fundraiser and ongoing open-mics showcase local talent

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

There are five K’s – articles of faith – worn by baptized Sikhs

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

Most Read

l -->