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      Panhandle woman salvages trash bags to help homeless

      Some might call it a trash to treasure story -- the Order of the Eastern Star is taking trash bags and using them to help the homeless in Amarillo sleep a little easier.

      "We're crocheting them into mats for the homeless and they're made out of recycled bags so they're not going to wind up in the landfill," said one bag crocheter, Cynthia Urbina.

      Urbina, who got the idea from a friend and found the crochet pattern online, said it takes around 500-700 bags just to weave one mat and that process takes about a week.

      "You get the bags, you fold them out nice and straight and you cut the handles and the very bottom of it off and then you cut it into strips," explained Urbina. "You weave them together like rubber bands and once you have a long enough strand just crochet them together and make it as big or as little as you want."

      Groups like Faith City Mission, the United Way of Amarillo and Canyon and even the VA Hospital have already contacted the group, interested in having some of these mats to help some of the local homeless people they serve.

      But not only will the mats help the homeless, they'll also help keep the environment just a little bit cleaner.

      "We're here to help others," said Urbina. "We're here to keep the environment clean and if it takes bags out of the landfill, that's a plus. If it helps somebody that needs it, there's another plus and we're doing it just because. We're not doing it as a fundraiser, this is just a community project that we're going to donate to whoever needs it."

      A community project that will take a community's help to pull it off. You can help the Order of the Eastern Star collect more bags to make more mats by dropping them off at the Masonic Lodge at 1512 W. 10th in Amarillo or better yet, you can make one yourself.

      "I they want to know how to do it, they can email us and we'll send them the link on how we got started," said Urbina. "It's just an excellent project for whoever."

      You can reach the Order of the Eastern Star by email at oesbags@hotmail.com.