Positive Charge! Takes on Plarn Mats for Homeless Neighbors

Got a bunch of plarn balls the size of heads hanging around? Who you gonna call? Positive Charge!

Southwest Portland volunteer group Positive Charge! is getting behind a “plarn” project for homeless neighbors. During their next meeting  on Sunday, March 31, from 2 to 4  pm, the group will host a workshop for all crocheters to learn how to make plarn sleeping mats for those who are unsheltered. RSVPs are requested on the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PositiveChargePDX/. Crocheters are asked to bring their biggest crochet hook and — a big heart. The group will meet at at Raleigh Hills Windermere conference room at 6443 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 1st floor, in the back of the building.

Positive Charge! volunteers learned about the plarn project in January when, in commemoration of MLK Day, Portland Jewish Academy offered kids in the community the opportunity to participate in a variety of service learning projects. One of those projects was cutting plastic grocery bags into strips that, in turn, were delivered to a dedicated group of senior residents at Cedar Sinai Park who rolled the strips into balls the size of a head. This “plastic yarn” is affectionately called “plarn.” In the hands of crocheters, plarn can be repurposed into lightweight, waterproof sleeping mats perfect for making life on the street a little easier.

Veteran crocheter Andrea Hirte conceived of the idea and has been the driving force behind this intergenerational, sustainable project. Last year, she delivered 20 mats to the Sunshine Division of the Portland Police Department for distribution. But the need is seemingly endless. Whereas lots of sources for collecting plastic grocery bags, cutting them into strips and rolling the strips into balls exist, what Hirte needs most right now to meet the high demand is crocheters. To that end, she’s asking volunteers to pick up their crochet hooks and turn six plarn balls the size of heads into 3’ x 6’ mats.

That’s where Positive Charge! (PC!) comes in. Positive Charge! is a local volunteer group, open to everyone, that was created to share good news and make a positive impact in the Southwest Portland community through various projects. The group, whose slogan is “amplifying kindness,” does this through forming partnerships with various SW Portland businesses and organizations. PC! co-founder Sallie Cohen, a Bridlemile neighborhood resident, noted that, since the organization began meeting in late 2016, “When we see a need, we try to rally the neighborhood to fill it. As a side benefit of our PC! activities, we have met many neighbors, young and old, we might never know. Broadly, we all get a ‘positive charge’ doing kind deeds working side by side with each other.”

In January, PC! was the driving force behind supporting the furloughed federal workers by collecting toiletries, household products, food, and gift cards, with bins at Food Front and Prosperity Pie Shoppe. In the fall, the group partnered with Thinker Toys and the Raleigh Hills Fred Meyer to collect costumes and dress-up props for the Chelsea Hicks Foundation. Other Positive Charge! collections have been for “welcome boxes” for foster care children as well as food and toiletry collections for Stephens Creek Crossing and Raphael House. In addition to other similar “flash” kindness events, Positive Charge! volunteers also make and serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House East and deliver baked goods from Safeway to Urban Gleaners on a monthly basis. Plus, they have made weighted neck wraps and lap pads for victims of sexual trafficking through the Giving Connection. In February, they decorated placemats for distribution to Meals on Wheels seniors on Valentine’s Day.

Crocheters of any age and gender are encouraged to attend the Positive Charge! event at Raleigh Hills Windermere conference room at 6443 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 1st floor, in the back of the building on March 31 starting at 2 pm to help with the worthy cause. Anyone interested in learning more about the good work of Positive Charge! should check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PositiveChargePDX/ and stay up to date on the monthly projects of this new neighborhood group open to everyone.

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