Elementary students make sleeping mats for homeless community out of recyclables

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The students of Ms. Noble’s 3rd and 4th grade ’empathy rocks’ class were not letting online school stop them from completing their end-of-the-year project.

“People who live on the streets might not have enough money to buy blankets and pillows and all sorts of stuff like that,” says Lucho Valdivia, a third-grade student in the class.

That was when the ‘plarn’ project” was born. ‘Plarn’ is plastic yarn made of recycled grocery bags.

This is April Noble’s second year teaching the ’empathy rocks’ class. She says it has taught her students so many important lessons. “It’s all about the awareness of making people aware of what you could do for others especially in a time of need,” she tells 13 News.

The students took something we would normally just toss out and turned it into something useful for the people of Charleston who are trying to survive on the streets. They started in the classroom making the plastic yarn, but then the coronavirus turned home into the classroom, which didn’t stop them.

“What we have right now what she is holding shows nothing is impossible,” says Maxwell Hodel, a fourth-grader.

They turned thousands of bags into ‘plarn’ then miss Noble’s sister and nephew knitted them into sleeping mats.

“It took two months per mat and that was working on it twelve hours a week,” says Dawn Crist.

After months of hard work, the class was able to present their finished project to Mana Meal, a non-profit that wokrs closely with the homeless community.

“I like doing this and helping people and see the joy on their faces when they get it,” says fourth grade, Chloe Chochren.

Noble adds, “They have such big kind hearts and it is such a good class and they would do anything for anybody.”

At just around nine and ten years old, hey have had their worlds flip upside down during the pandemic, but they still seem to understand what is important in life.

“Its important to help people because if no one in the world helped each other the world wouldn’t be how it is now,” says Valdivia.

The mats are durable, waterproof and bed-bug resistant.

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