Weaving new way to help

Community craft club crochets plarn mats for the homeless


Bethany Mann

Craft club members cut plastic bags during their morning meeting.

Bethany Mann, Staff Writer

Homeless people in San Antonio: 2,929. 

People living on the streets: 1,279. 

A school organization providing mats: 1

The new craft club, founded by senior Elle Suermann, is crocheting plarn mats to be distributed in San Antonio.

“I started a craft club because I wanted to teach other high schoolers how to knit and make other crafts,” Suermann said. “Crafts really helped me with anxiety, so I wanted others to have that same form of stress relief.”

Plarn is made out of cut up plastic bags woven together. It takes 600 bags to make a mat for one person. Every mat will be donated to the homeless.

“I saw it on TikTok a while ago,” Suermann said. “I thought it was a really great intersection of helping the environment and helping people.”

The club has not donated any mats yet, but they are getting closer with every meeting.

“I’m working on reaching out to the S.U.R.E (Students United For Respect And Equality) Club,” Craft Club Outreach Manager Annie Ngo said. “I want to work with a group that can help with donating downtown.”

Encampments, a place with temporary accommodations consisting of huts or tents, have been banned in San Antonio since 2005, but a Texas law went into effect in September 2021 that made encampment a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. 

“I hate it so much,” Suermann said. “People aren’t choosing to be homeless.”

Assistant Librarian Brandi Norton is collecting plastic bags in the school library, and everyone is encouraged to donate.

“The mats are really good because they’re plastic rather than a fabric sleeping bag,” Norton said. “They’re waterproof and will not collect things like lice. It’s actually more sanitary than a cloth map.”

The craft club meets every Friday morning in Angelica Mitchum’s room to create plarn in preparation for the mats.

“There’s a sense of community,” Suermann said. “Everybody gets to talk and just have a good time crafting and giving back to the community.”

Senior Courtney Medrano is the Vice President of Craft Club. She hopes to make a positive impact on her community. 

“I feel very good,” Medrano said. “I’m glad that I’m able to give back and that I’m actually doing it.”

As Suermann finishes up her mats, she is already planning Craft Club’s next project.

“I just really want to make the most difference that I can,” Suermann said. “Even though I’m still a high schooler.”