Wednesday, February 15, 2012

12/15/2012 The Mattress Pad Story

I have been saving my plastic bag from HEB (my grocery store here in Mission, Texas) Walmart and the tomato store when I go there.

I have other bags already bagged up and ready to go.


I had heard about this project that takes place on the Mission Bell side of the park shortly after we arrived and I was excited about it from day one.

Today, I joined about 40 other men and women and did something so worthwhile, so important for the recipients, so fulfilling, so….needed.

Lets start at the beginning. Back in 1996, the children in St. John’s Vacation Bible School (Nebraska) made mattress pads for the homeless as a mission project. For fifteen minutes each day, each Bible School group, or class, would work by stuffing plastic grocery bags into the tubes of the mattress material that was previously sewn. Usually denim, or a heavier upholstery material is used as the mattress covering.

How exactly this project made its way to Mission Bell is unclear to me. I do know that it started back in 2001 with eight or so women gathered in a motorhome to stuff the approximately 510 plastic grocery bags into the tubes.

The finished mattress pads were then donated to Hidalgo Mission, which is just a mile or so from the Mexico border, and they would be given to anyone who had no bed. In addition, every week people would walk across the border with a list of 8 – 10 clothing items they needed for their family, they would have a meal, attend a church service and be given a sack of food before they journeyed home. When they returned the following week, their clothing needs would be met and given to them. Every Thursday about 160 people would make the trek. Ten years later, I would imagine the number is higher now for those who come every week.

The Winter Texans of this park save their plastic bags all year round. They make sure room is left in the RV or the trunk of the car to transport all the ones saved in the spring, summer, and early fall.

So today was the first of two days that the mattress stuffing will take place.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the room over at Mission Bell. I certainly didn’t expect to see huge black leaf bags stuffed to the brim with plastic grocery store bags, plastic sleeves that newspapers are delivered in, bread bags, bags from Sears, Penney’s, Old Navy, Target, Kohl’s and the list goes on. Bags of every size and color.

Here the ladies start fluffing the bags. Since they are all mashed together in bags when they arrive each on is fluffed.



The mattress pads are constructed from 56 to 60 inch wide denim, sailcloth or other firm material. For an adult size mattress pad it takes 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 yards of material. I was told that the material is bought by the Winter Texans here in the park. They are always looking for high dollar coupons and clearance on end bolts in their fabric stores at home. The material is folded in half lengthwise and the ends sewn. Then the tubes are made by stitching every four and a half inches leaving nine inches at the end for the pillow.


Let the stuffing begin!



Jeannette from Iowa has joined in this worthwhile activity for several years now.


Ladies, and gentlemen, came and went all day long, Delivering bags they saved, fluffing bags, stuffing, , sewing the mattress pads themselves. Some stayed for a half hour, others stayed all day.


After each tube is filled, and all the bags pushed as far as they will go with a stick, then the end is pinned until it can be sewn shut.


Note: When kids do this project, the tubes are made first so that kids can fill with bags from each side at the same time.

Shirley getting more bags for fluffing.


This one is coming along nicely.


Busy bees…..


My sweet friend Phyliss came over and fluffed for awhile.


Much determination goes into getting those bags in there nice and tight.


I didn’t lay on one of these mattress pads but I did lean across one and they are surprisingly comfortable. Light enough to be carried and comfortable too! That’s a good combination.

There was a good mix of men and women helping out today.


Gerald, of Iowa, was just tickled to be able to help with such a worthy cause.


The completed mattress pads will be picked up tomorrow by a gentleman from His Hands Ministry. In the most recent years this group here in Mission Bell has been donating them to this organization.

If you have a youth group, Scout troop, church group, senior citizen group or anyone at all that needs a project, I have the written directions on how to make these pads. I would be happy to share them with you. Leave me a comment with contact info. (I won’t publish your information)

I’ll close this with these thoughts. This was a very rewarding day in more ways than one. I met and got to spend time with some wonderful men and women I otherwise would not have. I got to fluff many bags that will give comfort to a man or woman who has no bed. I went home thankful for my soft sheets and warm blanket. Given the chance, I would do this again in heartbeat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this idea. Can you send me the instructions for making these mattresses?