Archive January 2019 XX, No. 1

Ideas That Work: Charitable Acts

Blue Wrap Bed Rolls for the Homeless

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
BLUE WRAP SLEEPING MATS Rather than throwing away mounds of blue wrap, Dana Scarangelli, ST (center), and her colleagues at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, N.J., make waterproof mats for the homeless in their community.

Of the many ways to reuse blue sterilization wrap, here's one you might not have considered: sew a couple sheets together to make a sleeping mat for homeless people who might be sleeping on cement or on cardboard. Blue wrap is the ideal material for a portable bedroll. It's durable and waterproof, and it retains heat. Plus, as we all know, it's plentiful in the operating room.

To get started, you'll need 2 sheets of 4-by-4-foot blue wrap, scissors, a sewing machine, all-purpose dark-colored thread and elastic bands so you can roll up and carry the finished product like a yoga mat. This YouTube video provides a detailed step-by-step guide on how to make a mat: It's an easy and fun do-it-yourself project for your staff. It takes about 30 minutes to complete each 1⁄8-inch thick mat.

Over 3 years, our team has made and donated about 100 mats (and counting) and diverted about 12,000 pounds of blue wrap from the waste stream. We give the mats to the local police department, so officers can distribute them to the homeless on the streets. I've also handed out the mats to grateful people in tent cities near our hospital. It's a truly humbling and incredibly rewarding experience.

Dana Scarangelli, ST
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
Camden, N.J.

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