New Life for Old Bags Program
While the temple provides the venue and the opportunity to listen to the Dharma and to study the Buddha’s teachings through Dharma services, seminars, workshops, special observances and special events, it also aims to provide assistance for the welfare of the community beyond the circle of the Sangha. As the central focus of the community, the temple and its ministers and members have a responsibility to society at large.
To that end, the temple supports the New Life for Old Bags program, a community-service project sponsored by MBT’s Women’s Association in partnership with the original New Life for Old Bags organization.
NLOB is a group that collaborates with other nonprofits to make sleeping mats for the homeless out of used plastic bags. The bags are cut into strips and knotted together to make “plarn,” or plastic yarn, which is then crocheted into 3-by-6-foot mats.
NLOB sessions are held on the second Sunday each month at the temple, immediately after Sunday services. Participants—both MBT members and anyone who just wants to join in on this project—often bring plastic bags and snacks to be shared during the two-hour session.
Since 2009, NLOB volunteers have made more than 1,150 sleeping mats for the homeless, which are distributed by Cornerstone Community Outreach and their partners in the Chicago Uptown neighborhood.
By bringing New Life for Old Bags to MBT, the temple’s Women’s Association invites everyone and anyone—men and women, temple members, friends (old ones and new ones), relatives, temple neighbors, people curious about MBT, people who want to do something to help someone else.
While the mats are crocheted, you don’t need to know how to crochet to participate, as there are many ways to help—such as cutting the plastic bags, knotting the strips and making the plarn. New Life for Old Bags sessions (other churches around the Chicago area host them as well) have the air of old quilting bees. They’re a wonderful way to meet others and visit with good folks, while saving our environment from the dreaded plastic bags and helping others in need.
We hope to see our MBT New Life for Old Bags gatherings grow. So spread the word.