Murfreesboro Mat Makers have been making sleeping mats from plastic bags and distributing them to the homeless community for almost five years.
The group was started by Murfreesboro residents Diane Brown and Delores Reed in 2016 after Brown saw a video of Union City women making the mats. Brown asked in social media posts if anyone wanted to start a group similar to Murfreesboro.
Reed, who had experience with a group that made sleeping mats for the homeless in Nashville, was the first to respond, and Murfreesboro Mat Makers was born.
Volunteers collect plastic shopping bags, cut and weave them out of plastic thread, crochet or knit them into mats, and then distribute them. Mats provide a layer of comfort, hygiene and weather protection between the homeless and the floor that serves as their bed, as well as blankets, bundles and blankets for their belongings.
Reed coordinated with churches, community groups, and even prison and prison inmates to help with the production of the mats.
The distribution of the sleeping mats comes mainly to Cold Patrol and Journey Home, other homeless outreach groups in Murfreesboro.
Sandy Bell, a lifetime resident of Murfreesboro who has been involved in street ministry for nearly 30 years, heard about the group online through a friend. She said the mats were widely appreciated.
“You can’t go to a homeless camp (in Murfreesboro) without seeing a carpet,” she says. “If you think about it, when it rains a lot, their things are soaked and the bottoms of their tents are wet, the mats are so appreciated, and they see the time and dedication it takes to make the mats. “
Murfreesboro Mat Makers is open to everyone and always needs volunteers to make and distribute rugs. For more information, see their Facebook page.