Saturday, December 10, 2011

From milk bags to mats

Newmarket seniors help Haiti’s children

We’ve all heard milk “does a body good”, but seniors from Newmarket, Holland Landing and Sharon are taking it one step further.

The seniors are taking milk bags and doing good for children of Haiti.

There are nine women who meet once a month to crochet plastic mats out of milk bags.

The plastic mats are used to wrap medical supplies for shipping to Haiti, instead of using plastic wrap.

After, the mats are distributed to local children to sleep on.

It takes about 250 to 300 milk bags cut into two-inch strips to make one mat, said Jean Mennen, who brought the idea to other Holland Landing and Newmarket seniors after reading a pamphlet on how the mats can help.

“These would normally go in the garbage,” Ms Mennen said. “Now, these children have something to sleep on instead of sleeping on dirt.”

Milk bags are collected from hockey arenas, day care centres, churches and libraries.
“Everyone is amazed by the product in the end,” said Robin Ward, who collects and cuts milk bags for the women to crochet.

The main reason is to show people there are other uses for milk bags. They don’t have to go to a landfill and they can be used to help people, he said.

The different selections of milk, such as skim and 2-per-cent, which come in different coloured bags, make for a colourful selection, almost looking like a crocheted blanket.

“I used to separate the bags, 2 per cent over here, purple ones over there,” Ms Mennen said. “But it all comes out nice and colourful anyway.”

It takes almost a week to complete one mat, which is larger than one square metre.

The group sent 15 mats in February and is gearing up for another shipment later this month. The mats are sent to Haiti through Emmanuel International Canada, a non-profit organization that has been in Haiti since 1979.

Not only are the mats used as protective wrap for medical supplies and sleeping mats, they are also used during surgery.

“Sometimes, they don’t have linens,” Ms Mennen said. “So they use the mats, then wash them and reuse them.”

The mats also help protect children from parasitic infections, such as hookworm.

“Most people are still living in tents and sleeping on the ground,” Emmanuel International Canada executive director Richard McGowan said.

“These aren’t very thick, but it gets these children off the damp ground.”

To donate milk bags, you can drop them off at the Holland Landing Public Library or e-mail Robin Ward at

Thanks to

Kathy Dowsett

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