Upon entering Mara Cho’s third-grade classroom at Hebron-Harmans Elementary School in Hanover, the atmosphere seems chaotic.
There is a steady hum of conversation as students tend to hundreds of plastic grocery bags strewn about the room. It takes only a moment to realize that this is happy, organized chaos as the students laugh and smile while focusing on what seems like a production line activity.
Cho explains the children are making sleeping mats from plastic shopping bags, for the homeless.
“I think my students are doing a great project,” she said. “They wanted to help the homeless and help the environment.”
The teacher recalled seeing a sleeping mat online that was made from plastic grocery bags, the kind that everyone has. The bags are made into a plastic yarn and crocheted into a sleeping mat. The mats are durable and insulated — perfect for a homeless person to sleep on instead of directly on the ground. The students immediately became vested in the idea and began organizing how they would approach the project.
“The students are organized into groups, each with their own piece of the project, working in assembly-line fashion,” Cho said.
Jahmar Gayles is one of Cho’s students. He explained what his group was doing.
“We lay the bags flat like this,” Jahmar demonstrated. “And then you fold them, and cut them into strips, and tie them together.”
Once Jahmar and his group cut the bags, the strips are given to another group of classmates to tie them together. Yet another group rolls the long plastic rope-like yarn into balls to be crocheted.
“In the winter we are going to give it to the homeless people so they are cozy on the ground,” Jahmar said.
Dena’ja Johnson is the best “crocheter” say her classmates unanimously. Learning the craft just two days ago, Dena’ja was steadily crocheting that day in class, just as fast as the students could make the plastic yarn, and added another foot of length to the mat. She has also been teaching her classmates how to crochet, but she remains the primary crafter.
“It feels like slime,” Dena’ja giggled as she continued to work on the mat while she spoke. “The homeless people lay down on it and it keeps them warm.”
“Our class will only be able to make one mat in our time in third grade,” Cho said. “In other cities people work over the summer to make mats for the coming winter. It takes a lot of time.”
Cho’s students are so committed to their homeless project that they want to work over the summer making the plastic bag yarn. It takes approximately 700 plastic bags to make a 6-foot-by-2½-foot sleeping mat.
“We would love to ask for adults who would take the yarn and crochet the mat,” Cho said. “Every student will get to do a few stitches in our mat, but they need a lot of supervision on that part.”
Once the sleeping mat has been completed over the next several months, Cho plans to contact one of the nonprofit organizations who work with the homeless in Baltimore. Her goal is to deliver the finished mat this winter when it will provide the greatest comfort for those in need.
If you would like to help Cho’s third-grade students complete their sleeping mat for the homeless this winter, email email@example.com.
Archbishop Spalding grads
Archbishop Spalding High School President Kathleen Mahar, with Principal Lewis Van Wambeke, are pleased to announce more than 300 students participated in the 2018 commencement ceremony held May 24 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. The Class of 2018 received more than $34 million in academic and athletic scholarships. Congratulations to Archbishop Spalding High School Class of 2018.
SDS dedicates memorial garden
The Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland in Severn dedicated its new memorial garden on June 8. Since opening in 2016, SDS has rescued more than 400 dogs. Prior to the dedication, 53 flowers were planted to honor the 53 dogs that passed away at the facility; many of them hospice dogs taken in by SDS to ensure they received love and comfort during their final days.
The memorial garden is a place of quiet and contemplation. The dogs whose lives were celebrated found the sanctuary as a place of comfort, and often as a gateway to a better life.
The Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and relies on donations to stay in operation. For more information about the Senior Dog Sanctuary, visit www.seniordogsanctuary.com.
Suicide prevention event
A communitywide suicide prevention event to spread awareness, knowledge and education about this growing epidemic will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. July 7 in the parking lot of Turn-N Headz Barbershop, 1153 Reece Road in Severn. Rain date is July 14.
The event is sponsored by Community of Love United Outreach Organization in Odenton, Covenant Lifehouse Ministries of Glen Burnie and Grub Out Carry Out on Reece Road in Severn.