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Eastern Star community service project benefits homeless
Order of the Eastern Star 1
Order of the Eastern Stars Wistaria (Chapter 531) crocheted plastic bags together for the homeless and donated them to the Salvation Army. From Left to Right, Salvation Army Lt. Tracy Gonzales, Carolyn Ridge, Wanda Ray, Yvette Elness, Dolores Thomas, Major Debi Shrum and Mary Williams. Not pictured: Edith Krueger, Helen Dedeios, Rhonda Rallios and Merry Baker. - photo by NATALIE WINTERS/The Journal

Turlock’s Wistaria (Chapter 531) Order of the Eastern Star, a philanthropic organization, made their annual community service project this year one that benefits the homeless.

Yvette Elness, Worthy Matron of the organization, headed this project and was proud of the support that she and the chapter received.

“It’s such a wonderful project and we were so grateful that many chapters jumped on the bandwagon to help,” she said.

The group crocheted mats for the homeless out of recycled plastic bags — and it was no easy task.

“Some members helped cut the bags into strips and tie them together, some helped roll them into balls of plastic and others focused on crocheting them together,” said Carolyn Ridge, Order of the Eastern Star member.

The mat serves as a cushion that will keep the homeless off the cold pavement.

“The only thing that it costs us is time,” said Elness. “It keeps the plastic out of the Dumpster and gives the homeless a type of bedding.”

One crocheted mat takes roughly 300 hours to make throughout the whole process.

The Order of the Eastern Star members donated the mats to the Turlock Salvation Army Corps on Thursday for distribution to local homeless.

 “It’s so good in so many ways,” said Major Debi Shrum, core officer for Turlock Salvation Army. “The fact that we can help some people get off the pavement and be a little warmer is great, we’re recycling which is great and anything that gets a group of people heading in the same direction I think is a really positive thing.”