(WSVN) - There are a lot more than just books to check out at one Miami-Dade library. 7’s Christine Cruz shows how some patrons are using plastic bags and crochet needles to lend some “Helping Hands” to strangers.

The tiny library in Southwest Miami-Dade is home to a very big project. Volunteers are sorting, cutting, tying and crocheting — only to give their hard work away to total strangers.

Ellen Book, branch manager: “That was the intent, and it has far-reaching consequences, for something so small to make communities come together.”

Members of the Helping Hands group meet once a week at the Country Walk library branch with one mission: to help those in need and keep their community clean.

Ellen Book: “Taking plarn, which is plastic yarn, bags from recycling, and making them into mats that are given to the homeless.”

Crocheting these mats is not an easy job. Each one takes at least a week to make, along with a lot of creativity and plenty of plastic bags.

Gabriella Imbimbo, librarian: “You see bags from Sedano’s, Walmart, Presidente, Publix, all these bags that are separated. Then we’re going to string together, to create the beautiful colorful patterns that you see.”

The volunteers say there is a job for anyone willing to help.

Volunteer: “I don’t know how to crochet, but I go around to some places and ask if they can donate some bags to us.”

When the volunteers finish a few mats, they roll them up, and deliver them to the homeless in downtown Miami, or those living in migrant camps in Homestead.

Gabriella Imbimbo: “They feel so special, they’re like, ‘Wow, this is really made with love.'”

Volunteers say their work not only benefits those who receive the mats, but they find their own happiness out of the project.

Volunteer: “This is a joy to participate.”

Library staff hope to continue the Helping Hands program for as long as the need continues, and as long as those plastic bags keep coming.

Ellen Book: “How something so simple, like taking a recycled plastic bag can change a life.”

The Helping Hands group meets every Thursday morning at 11 a.m.


Country Walk Branch Library
15433 SW 137th Ave
Miami, FL 33177
(786) 293-4577

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