Newport News PD employee crochets blanket out of plastic bags for the homeless

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News Police Department employee is turning plastic into presents for the homeless. 

She’s using plastic bags and her love of crafting to make blankets for those less fortunate. 

What started as an accidental find during an online search has now turned into a passion project for Aletha Russell. 

“I had never seen anything like this, and I thought it was pretty neat and I really was experimenting to see if it was going to work,” Russell said. 

Russell crocheted a plastic blanket after stumbling across a crafting technique called “plarn.” 

Plarn is yarn made of plastic. 

It sparked Russell’s interest after she saw others online who had made blankets out of plarn for the homeless. 

“Cutting up plastic bags, making loops and rolling them into plarn balls,” said Russell, describing the process. “Then you just crochet them together like you would a regular crochet project.” 

She asked her coworkers at the Newport News Police Department to donate plastic bags — and they delivered.  

She learned how to crochet and created a blanket that can also be used as a mat. 

“It would provide comfort, cushion, warmth and insulation,” said Russell. “Even as I was laying on it for five minutes, I could feel the heat coming through.” 

It takes about 300 to 500 bags for one blanket, and an estimated four to five hours to complete one if all the materials are cut before starting. 

With hundreds of bags collected, Russell plans to make more for those who need warmth this season. 

“I’m happy that I could do it. I’m excited about giving it away and starting a new one, but it makes me feel good,” she said. 

About 30 volunteers made up of Russell’s coworkers and community members are coming together this weekend to prep the bags so she can make more blankets. 

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