Hegewisch woman turns plastic bags into sleeping mats for Chicago homeless

CHICAGO (WLS) -- During the dangerously cold days the homeless can go overlooked, but one Chicago woman has found a unique way to provide comfort for the oft-forgotten population.

Shawne Duck lives in Hegewisch, but she feels most at home in the water. She works as a private swimming instructor. The COVID-19 pandemic has left her high and dry.

"I just had to refocus where I was putting my energy," Duck said.

She shifted that energy into helping the homeless with her Southeast Side family and friends. They had already spent years handing out toiletries and supplies packed into comfort bags.

"We were raised in South Deering in the Trumbull Park Housing Project there, by a single mom who raised six of us, and we know what it's like to be the beneficiaries of people helping us," she explained.

So when Duck saw a video on YouTube demonstrating how to make sleeping mats out of plastic bags, she knew she had to try it. The mats can be given to homeless Chicagoans.

"I mean, it looks like you could put them in your house, right? Beautiful. It makes sense, because that plastic serves as insulation," Duck said.

It begins with regular plastic bags, which are then transformed into balls of plastic yarn, which Duck calls "plarn." That is then crocheted into mats. They look complicated to make, but Duck says they're not.

"I think once we get to the crocheting part, if you know how to crochet it should be fairly easy," she said. "It takes between 600 to 800 bags to make one mat. So that's why we are starting now, so that hopefully we will have more mats to distribute."

It'll help the homeless to rest a little easier.

If you want to donate plastic bags for the mats, you can reach out to Shawne Duck by sending an email to quackerchatter@gmail.com with the subject line "Sleeping Mats for the Homeless."
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.