UVU students weave mats out of plastic bags for refugees

OREM, Utah - A group of Utah Valley University students is using a simple household item usually destined for the landfill, to help out refugee families across the world instead.

Every Tuesday evening since the beginning of January, dozens of students have been gathering at the LDS Institute on campus to fill the game room with the sound of crinkling bags and laughs.

The Latter Day Saints Student Association Service Counsel is working on a service project to make sleeping mats out of plastic bags.

UVU freshman Emilee Robinson said they weave 1,000 plastic bags on a loom to create each mat.

"They have left their homes with nothing," she said, of the refugee families in Bangladesh and Jordan where they'll send the mats. "The least we can do is help out a little bit."

In addition to making mats, the group sews drawstring backpacks that will hold school supplies for refugee children, and they make quilts.

"One quilt is for an entire family," LDSSA co-chair and UVU junior Tyler Harper explained. "That's all they have."

The room buzzes with busyness at several different workstations, creating a happy atmosphere as students help those in need.

"It's just an energy that's contagious and easy to fuel off of," Harper said.

"It's just nice to know that maybe you're making a little tiny bit of an impact," Robinson said.

They said they'll continue their service project all semester long, and hope to make as many mats, quilts and backpacks as possible.

Harper and Robinson said they are looking for plastic bag donations. Anyone who would like to help out can drop their bags off at bins located in the lobby of the LDS Institute on the UVU campus.