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Work to weave mats continues

February 2, 2018 GMT

American Legion auxiliary members making sleeping mats for area homeless people by weaving together plastic shopping bags have received so many bags that they now require a shed to hold them all.

Members of American Legion Post 87, along with people from Post 127 and Veterans of Foreign posts 10005 and 404, have been weaving the mats for months.

Keri Ebert, historian of American Legion Post 87 and an auxiliary member there, has made three dozen of these plastic mats since the special looms to weave them arrived in June 2017. She also teaches others how to create them and even conceived a way to fashion pillows that attach to the mats.

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Ebert recently accepted a donation of mats crocheted by Valerie Nichols. Nichols’ friend, Stephanie Ellsworth, made the American Legion aware of what Nichols was doing.

Each mat took Nichols six weeks to complete, said Janice Marie Williamson, the American Legion District 7 president. District 7 encompasses a wide area that extends from Flagstaff to Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City.

Ebert turned Nichols’ mats over to the Guardian Foundation for distribution to local homeless people.

The Guardian Foundation has been giving out the mats, which are considered durable but lightweight enough to carry around everywhere, easy to clean with just water and an air dry, and feel cool in the summer yet warm in the winter.

American Legion auxiliary members in Unit 81, Lake Havasu City, will join in on weaving these mats and were scheduled to pick up their own loom this week. Williamson said members over there have been collecting bags and bringing them to District 7 meetings for weavers at Post 87.

“I am so thrilled that this (American Legion) unit has got on board with this project because I know there are a lot of homeless there also,” Williamson said.

It requires about 500 bags to complete one mat using a custom-made loom created by Bullhead City man K.O. Bezona.

After the handles and bottoms of the bags are cut off, the remaining plastic loops are tied end-to-end to create long strands that run up and down or side to side. The completed mats are about 6 feet long and 32 inches wide.

American Legion Post 87 not only needs a place to store bags but continues to accept bag donations. The post is at 2249 Clearwater Drive in Bullhead City.

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