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Aylmer Milk Bag Project

Page history last edited by B Eade 11 years, 2 months ago

Friends of the Outaouais group - Coordinated from Aylmer United Church by Cathy Mellon

 

Jan - Apr 2013 we completed 52 bed mats, 16 Square mats, 8 tote bags

 Our three year total is 175 bed mats, 3 totes, 16 squares and 5 teddies.   Janet with the help of Anita have provided workshops to a busy group of Catholic ladies up in Bryson, QC as well as to two Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) offices in Ottawa.  The completed works from Bryson are combined with the Aylmer United Church’s contribution.   Looking forward to doing this again next winter, as long as there is a need and the ladies are willing. One of our group has connections with St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Aylmer, right next to our Church in fact  and they have expressed interest in getting more involved next year.

 

Jan - Apr 2012 we completed 51 bed mats, 7 medical tote bags and 5 teddies

Aylmer UC, is going strong in it's second year, Chelsea, Shawville, and Bristol are up and running  and the 1st Aylmer Cubs and Christ Church will be joining in shortly.  

We received a special note of appreciation from the office of Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean

 

2011 update - Cathy, a supply team leader with Acquisitions Branch in Ottawa, along with about 30 other women at the United Church in Aylmer, Quebec, has spent the past four months fashioning thousands of milk bags into sleeping mats and tote bags for the people of Haiti displaced by their country’s devastating earthquake in 2010.

“Instead of ending up in a landfill doing nothing, these milk bags are helping the people of Haiti,” says Cathy.

Cathy first heard of the milk bag sleeping mats when she read an article in the Ottawa Citizen about a group of volunteers at the Bells Corners United Church in Ottawa who were making mats and sending them to Haiti. She realized that this project would be a good fit for her church and people in her community took to the idea enthusiastically.

The sleeping mats and tote bags, which are shipped to Haiti via a Christian mission in Hamilton, Ontario, are important for the thousands of Haitians still living in tent villages for several reasons. Unlike conventional reed mats that break down quickly when exposed to the elements, the milk bag mats can last for years. As well, doctors working in Haiti are advocates of the plastic mats because they repel insects and can be washed easily. The tote bags that Cathy and her friends send to Haiti are distributed to people being discharged from hospitals and are useful for carrying personal effects and medical supplies.

 

Cathy crochets the old milk bags with her fingers. 

 

 

2011 update - Near a Tim Horton’s at Place du Portage, in Gatineau, Quebec, a crowd of curious onlookers gathers around Cathy as she prepares to demonstrate how to make a sleeping mat. First, she takes out a handful of multi-coloured milk bags that have been washed and neatly folded. She then cuts the ends off, folds the bags cross-wise and cuts them up, creating long strands of “plarn”plastic yarn. The end result looks a little like a small hula skirt. After cutting the strips at an angle Cathy has one long strip of material to stitch together. She then crochets the former milk bags, using either a crochet hook or just her fingers. A sleeping mat, which requires between 250 and 500 milk bags, takes a few days to make; a tote bag takes a couple of hours.

Where is she getting all the milk bags, you might ask? “The response from the community has been so great,” says Cathy. “Once the word got out there was no stopping it. My coworkers give me their milk bags on a regular basis and I once came home to find my mailbox stuffed with them. I’ve heard of grade 6 students who want to learn to crochet and of young people going on ‘crochet dates.’”

Several elementary schools around Aylmer and the Outaouais are also donating bags, as is a day care and even a local Starbucks.

Cathy’s church group started making the mats and tote bags in January 2011 and wrapped up Easter weekend. They’ll start at it again next winter. So far, the group has made 30 mats and 20 totes.

 

 

 

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