Ringgold woman introduces “plarning” to serve community

4-H Program Assistant Roberta Pepper looking to transform recycled plastic bags into sleeping mats for local homeless

CATOOSA COUNTY, Georgia (WDEF) — This holiday season, officials in Catoosa County are asking its residents to gift them … with recycled plastic bags.

Believe it or not, one woman in Ringgold has introduced a new hobby that not only helps the environment, but also the area’s homeless.

Plastic Yarning, or “plarning,” for Roberta Pepper involves crocheting anywhere between 500-to-700 recycled plastic bags, and creating fully functional sleeping mats to donate to the local homeless population.

Catoosa County officials are blown away by her work and are now promoting it to help those in need.

For Christmas this year, Pepper isn’t asking for gifts or even gift bags, but rather leftover plastic bags from her community.

The county’s UGA Extension and 4-H Chapter have launched the “Bags to Beds” drive, literally turning one man’s trash into another’s treasure.

“There’s all kinds of ways you can make plarn, but I wanted the thicker way so it made a thicker mat,” Pepper said. “So not only will we [be] recycling, but we’ll also be making something that the homeless can use to help make their life a little easier when they’re having such a tough time.”

Pepper was recently influenced after seeing a similar practice performed at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

She also isn’t the only one invested in the local drive, saying that many of the youth in Catoosa’s 4-H Program are quickly becoming experts in the craft.

“Even on a day like today where it’s rainy, the concrete is wet, the plastic will keep their body from the wetness,” Pepper said. “They can sit on it, lay on it, set their stuff on it. Some people have dogs, they can put their dog on it. There [are] all different kinds of ways they can use it to help keep them warmer, safer and more comfortable.”

Catoosa County Spokesman John Pless is 100% behind the efforts of Pepper and her kids.

He is encouraging locals to lend a hand and provide the organization with the materials they need.

“Christmas is the season of giving and what better way to give to your community and some less fortunate people something that provides comfort, something that provides a pathway to further community engagement, to get kids inspired to do things that help a neighbor — that’s giving,” Pless said.

Pless says the county is proud of the organization’s efforts and he personally can’t thank Pepper or her kids enough.

You can donate as many recycled plastic bags as you want at the 4-H, UGA Extension building in Ringgold.

The facility is located at 43 Maple Dr. and is open from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Categories: Catoosa County, Featured, Local News