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Nearly blind Kan. woman creates mats for homeless

July 16, 2018

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The internet offers tutorials galore for crocheting plastic bags into sleeping mats, and Pat Thompson has taken those lessons to heart.

Every morning Thompson, who is almost blind, makes her way to a comfortable chair in her daughter Amy Mitchell’s Hutchinson home. She suffers from glaucoma and has an only blurry vision in half of one eye.

“I do this by feel,” said Thompson demonstrating her crocheting skill.

She finds great joy sitting in the chair, with a large crochet hook in hand, weaving yellow, beige and white strips of plastic grocery bags into mats for homeless people, while listening to music or audiobooks, The Hutchinson News reported.

It has become part of a ministry at First Church of the Nazarene, with members of the congregation keeping plastic grocery bags for Thompson. Then Rosalie Smith takes the bags to Thompson, who works with her daughter cutting the bags into strips. The strips are tied together and rolled them into large balls, the way a knitter does yarn.

Thompson has turned the project into her ministry. Over the past year and a half, she has created 105 mats. On a recent morning, she was working on the 106th mat. She has worn out one crochet hook in the process.

“We are reaching out in love,” said Rosalie Smith, who helps keep Thompson in plastic bags. The finished mats are never sold but donated locally to First Call for Help and the Salvation Army.

They are also giving them to Wichita’s Union Rescue Mission. Some of the youth from First Nazarene are headed to Houston for a mission trip in July and will be taking Thompson’s mats to the homeless in that city.

Thompson has never met a recipient of her handiwork, but she feels a connection.

“I just know they need help and this is what I can do to help,” Thompson said.

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