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For the past five years, about 20 Brockville-area women have been making sleeping mats for children and families in Haiti. They are part of the Bags for Beds initiative in which plastic milk bags are cut into strips and woven into waterproof units ideal for sleeping. "We sent 40 mats last month," said Albas, noting over recent years, they've worked to send about 500 to Haiti. "They are the poorest country," said Albas of why their efforts have been focussed there. To make a child's mat, the group requires about 300 milk bags. Adult mats require about 600 bags. The mats, which are washable and dry quickly, replace sharp-edged banana leaves typically used by Haitians for sleeping on.

"They've been coming from as far as Williamburg," Albas said of the donations from the community and surrounding area. "They're coming from everywhere -sometimes I don't even know where they're coming from," she said. Not long ago, when an Ottawa dairy was switching to greener bags to package its product, it donated 20,000 of the heavier plastic bags to the local group. "We don't want them to go into our landfill sites and it helps the people (of Haiti)," said Albas of what's a win-win project at home and abroad. Each mat takes about 10 hours to weave or crochet. Bags are also created for medical personnel to carry supplies, Albas said.

Clean, used milk bags for the program may be dropped off at Rosemary's Optical, 51 King Street West in Brockville. For more information on how you can help, contact Tena Albas at 613-498-2774.


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