Alexis Stollings watches as Sharon Reeder donates plastic bags to the ‘Mats for a Cause Chilliwack’ effort to weave sleeping mats for the homeless in Chilliwack. (Darren Stollings photo)

Alexis Stollings watches as Sharon Reeder donates plastic bags to the ‘Mats for a Cause Chilliwack’ effort to weave sleeping mats for the homeless in Chilliwack. (Darren Stollings photo)

B.C. teen launches project to weave sleeping mats for the homeless

Mats for a Cause Chilliwack was created by youth who is seeking donations in plastic-bag drive

Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stollings has launched a plastic-bag drive in Chilliwack to make sleeping mats for the homeless before winter blows in.

The idea came to her while helping clear out the family home and finding a huge cache of plastic bags.

“I am really passionate about giving back to our community, and this was the perfect opportunity to help those in need,” said Stollings.

Finding out that there was a whopping 306 people in Chilliwack who self-identified as homeless during the 2020 Homeless Count, was a wakeup call. It was an increase of 38 per cent from the 2017 total of 221 people, and it made her realize the huge level of need.

“We need to take care of people in our community.”

The mats will be woven on a loom using strips made from the donated plastic bags.

READ MORE: Homeless mats crocheted by Chilliwack woman

“This work has been done before in Chilliwack, however with the winter months ahead it’s important that we help those in need in our community,” she said, referring to the mat project undertaken by Judy Simmill last February, who crocheted the mats for the homeless.

”In case you haven’t heard of it before, these mats help those facing homelessness by creating an insulator for them to sleep on that doesn’t get wet like blankets or regular mats do,” Stollings wrote in her post. “They also can be rolled up easily for storage or to carry.”

Each mat requires between 500 to 700 bags so they need all the help they can get.

Stollings has become an active member of the Youth Advisory Committee, and more than a dozen of her fellow committee members will be lending a hand as volunteers for the project, Mats for a Cause Chilliwack.

“This will be an amazing way to get youth involved in a community project.”

Message Alexis Stollings on Facebook by inbox or @mats_for_a_cause_chilliwack on Instagram. Bags can be dropped off at Stólō Nation (health building), 7201 Vedder Road, Building 7, Chilliwack, for the next week. It is behind the entrance to the pharmacy by the main doors, with bags dropped into a grey garbage bin with a bright green sign.

“Thank you so much to everyone willing to donate.”

READ MORE: Homelessness trending upward across the Fraser Valley

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


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