"Dream Mats" Project a Successful Community Service Event
15 February 2019
On Thursday, February 14, Passaic Valley participated in its first ever MLK Dream Mat Project, a community service project designed to provide local homeless population protection in the form of mats woven from plastic bags.
Initiated by Librarian Ms. Leanne Weiss, the project involved PV teaming up with several local organizations, including the Alfred H Baumann Public Library, Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark, Passaic County Senior Services, the Borough of Woodland Park, Passaic County Human Services, Woodland Park Schools, ShopRite of Little Falls, Kohl's Department Store, and Stop & Shop of Ringwood.
In preparation for the event, plastic bags were collected from February 1st to the 13th. From 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM on February 14th, students volunteered throughout the day with the project. An estimated 76 volunteers participated over the course of the day, including students, teachers, parents, and staff members of the Woodland Park Library. Students who participated earned community service hours for participating.
The humanitarian aspects of the project clearly struck a chord with students, whether they were able to participate or not. "Although I wasn't able to volunteer my time to participate, I think the Dream Mats project is an excellent way to involve students in issues that are unfortunately very pressing, and allows them to help make an impact," commented Marc Garcia '19.
The process of making the Dream Mats is very complex and time consuming, as the plastic bags need to be woven together perfectly in order to serve as protection for the homeless. "Because it takes a while to make the mats, some volunteers will be continuing to put time and effort towards working on the mats after the 14th," explained Weiss.
Once the mats are completed, they will be given to Passaic County's Human Services. They will take over the project, distributing mats to the homeless of Passaic County.
"I would like to have another day where participants can come back to continue working on the project," Weiss stated. "If we can continue this event in the future, that would be great."