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Kate Van Winkle & Lyndsey Gilpin/MEDILL

New Life for Old Bags hosts volunteer events the first Saturday of every month. The organization recently celebrated its third anniversary.

New life for old bags

by Kate Van Winkle and Lyndsey Gilpin
Feb 06, 2013


Lyndsey Gilpin/MEDILL

Toni Richter has volunteered for three years with New Life for Old Bags, an organization involving Chicago area nursing homes, schools and individuals. The group has produced 700 plastic bag mats, with Richter crocheting more than half.


New Life for Old Bags, a Chicago-based volunteer effort, has turned more than half a million bags into about 700 durable mats for the homeless in the past three years.

The group started in a nursing home, and has since recruited many organizations, including schools and other senior centers, to help with the project.

It takes about 80 hours of work to weave the plastic bags into mats, which are then distributed out of Cornerstone Community Outreach in Uptown.