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Saint Ursula Students Use Recycled Plastic Bags to Help the Homeless

Saint Ursula Students Use Recycled Plastic Bags to Help the Homeless

Cincinnati, Ohio – October 28, 2016 – A group of students from Saint Ursula Academy has found a way to help others while, at the same time, contributing to the sustainability efforts on the Saint Ursula Academy campus. They are finding a new use for plastic grocery bags by cutting the bags into strips and crocheting them into sleeping mats for the homeless.

Maddie Brennan ’17 of Loveland, Isabel York ’17 of White Oak, and Rosemarie Bingham ’18 of Miami Township spearheaded this initiative as part of a project for their Contemporary Issues in Women’s Health class. Rosemarie had visited Nicaragua with the SUA Community Service Learning program over the summer and had seen examples of hammocks made from plastic bags. After learning about the high numbers of homelessness in Cincinnati during class, the students were motivated to do something to help someone in need.

The mats they created are made from recycled grocery bags and are very durable and water resistant, which makes them a good fit for someone who might be sleeping outside. The students hope this mat will provide a little more comfort to someone than if they had to sleep on the floor of a shelter or on the street. They also hope their mat is just a starting point and that other mats will be created by the Saint Ursula Community. The first mat was donated to Matthew 25 Ministries and will be passed along to a teenager in need.

While working on the project, Rosemarie had several opportunities to reflect on the importance of helping those in need. “I consider myself so lucky to have a loving family, food on the table every day, and a roof over my head. Unfortunately, not all teens can say the same thing. I am happy that something I've created with my own hands will benefit the life of someone going through a hard time,” said Rosemarie.

The process to complete the project was very time and labor intensive. The students enlisted the help of many teachers, parents, and other students who took turns crocheting rows of the mat. In all, nearly 1000 bags were used and the mat took approximately three weeks to complete. The girls pray, however, that the time and energy it took to complete this project will help the recipient sleep a little better, and that it will let the recipient know that someone cares about him/her.

Saint Ursula Academy is a Catholic, college-preparatory, secondary school for young women known for academic excellence and rich tradition. Saint Ursula welcomes students from more than 90 grade schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. The Academy is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School. The campus, located at 1339 E. McMillan Street in East Walnut Hills has been the home of St. Ursula Academy and Convent since 1910. 86% of the Class of 2016 earned college scholarships totaling more than $22-million.

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Photo Caption: The Saint Ursula community, including teachers, parents, and students, worked together to create a sleeping mat from recycled plastic bags. Photographed with the mat are SUA Mathematics teacher Cindy Depoe, SUA IT Coordinator Margie Matthews, Isabel York ’17 of White Oak, Maddie Brennan of Loveland, and Rosemarie Bingham ’18 of Miami Township.