Helping Others is in the Bag

Doris McPherson has been through a lot of changes and difficult times in the past year, but instead of withdrawing from others, she’s chosen to give back to the community in an amazing way. Her husband Bob recently made the move to Sterling Presbyterian Manor, and she was a recent patient in our PATH® (post-acute-to-home) program after a knee replacement. After 64 years of marriage, this time apart is hard on the couple, but she takes comfort in knowing he’s receiving great care. In her downtime, she focuses on the needs of others going through hard times as well.

“My son and daughter-in-law live here in Sterling, but my son is the worship leader at First Nazarene Church in Hutchinson, in addition to his full-time job as a district judge. Awhile back, the church was approached with a need from the Salvation Army. Their homeless ministry was in need of bedrolls made with plastic shopping bags. Cloth blankets are an issue because they get so wet and dirty. My daughter-in-law knew that I could crochet, so she asked if I could help. I gave it a shot, and I’ve made 32 since then,” said Doris.

Each mat is a labor of love, and that’s exactly what motivates Doris to keep making them.

“It takes about 800 plastic bags to make one three-by-six-foot mat. The bags are cut in strips first, then crocheted together. It takes me two to three weeks to complete one. After I finish, I pray over each mat. I pray that whoever receives it knows they are loved and cared for,” said Doris.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it also takes a village to make a plastic-bag bedroll.

“I have so many people helping collect and cut bags into strips. At one grocery store where I went to ask for old bags, the lady said I should be in the newspaper. So they wrote a story, and I asked them to publish my number so people could bring me bags. Now, I’ll open my door to find a whole mess of bags! It’s wonderful!” said Doris. “There are schools and churches that collect bags as well, and even a group of Amish women who get together and cut bags into strips.”

Doris isn’t the only one making the bedrolls, either. There’s a woman in Hutchinson crocheting away as well.

“I think she’s made more than 70. We’ve both been very busy, but we’re blessed by the opportunity to help others,” said Doris. “It’s been a great project for me, and I’ve heard from people who’ve seen homeless people with them slung on their backs, so I know they’re being used. They’ve even gone to the Salvation Army in Kansas City and First Call for Help.”

Doris and her husband Bob have a long history of helping others, and their sons have modeled this community outreach as well.

“After my husband retired, we moved to Eureka Springs on Beaver Lake in Arkansas to help with a Christian family retreat ministry. We really enjoyed that time there, but after my husband’s health got more challenging, we decided to move to Sterling to be closer to our son, Scott.”

At the time, Scott was a prosecuting attorney, and he was also a musician and served as worship leader at his church. He has recently been named a district court judge.

“Our other son, Michael, just retired from the University of Virginia where he was VP of IT,” Doris said. “He’s now spending his time helping a student group from several universities program a satellite to launch to the space station! He’s very into technology, and I rarely understand what he’s telling me, but we’re so proud!”

We’re grateful for the opportunity we had to help Doris after her surgery, and to also care for Bob’s needs.

“They were wonderful to us. I am not a good patient and was ready to go home, but they could not have been kinder,” said Doris.

If you would like to get involved with helping Doris make plastic-bag bedrolls, contact Doris at 620-278-2101.