Making beds from plastic bags
by Alyssa Meier
When Wilma Groh started weaving together mats for San Diego’s homeless out of plastic bags, it’s unlikely that she knew that 5 years later, it would have spread across the country, reaching all the way to Washburn, ND.
Groh started the Wil-Mat Project in 2010, overcoming blindness and arthritis in an effort to give homeless men, women and children a reusable tool and a better night’s sleep. The mats are made out of recycled plastic bags, and can be used as either a cushion to sleep on, or a blanket to cover up with.
Two months before Groh passed away, she was named the Huffington Post’s "Greatest Person of the Day" on January 9th, 2012. Groh’s daughter, Linda Wikstrom took over the Wil-Mat Project after Groh’s death, along with her husband and mother-in-law. They have continued the project over the years, up through when Peggy Hight visited the area in March.
A Washburn resident, Hight was in California this Spring spending time with her daughter-in-law when they visited a church that was making Wil-Mats. Hight realized how easy it was to make the mats, and knew the project was something that had to come home with her.
"I decided when I saw this, that it would be good for North Dakota," Hight said. "We’re always so busy helping everyone else out. It’s time to help our own state out."