DeRidder community comes together to help the homeless

Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 at 10:24 PM CST
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DERIDDER, La. (KPLC) - Becky Fejarang says the idea came to her after her friend sent her a video on Facebook.

“She sent me a link to a YouTube video of some little ladies at a church crotcheting these bedrolls for people who are experiencing homelessness,” Fejarang said. “She thought because I absolutely love crocheting that it would be something I would love to do. I love to do community work. So when I approached Stacy to help me because I didn’t know what the need in the community would be. We have such a small town but we put it out there and we found out that Abraham’s Tent in Lake Charles actually could use them.”

Stacey Schlittenhard, a Bags for a Cause coordinator, says calls herself and Fejarang the “Crochet Ladies” and they get together once a month to work on projects for the community. She says they just recently finished a scarves project for area children to wear in the winter.

The two created a Facebook group and Bags for a Cause got started. Fejarang says it takes between 500 to 700 plastic shopping bags to make a 6 foot long sleeping mat, so she put the word out on social media and the community stepped up.

“I think this is a great environmental impact as well,” Schlittenhard said. “The environment doesn’t need any more plastic bags in it. We are hoping this takes a few off the street and putting them into something worthwhile.”

The DeRidder Fire Department has become a donation drop off point. The first drop off location was at their Northside Station just last week. They say it filled up quickly.

“I saw the post on Facebook and I thought I have an abundance of plastic bags that I can really stand to do something with and I didn’t just want to throw something away and it’s always a great feeling to help someone in need," Rena Toney, the Fire Prevention Officer for the DeRidder Fire Department said. "There is a greater homeless population than we realize in our area and it could be us. It’s just nice to give back when you can.”

Allie Calcote, a student at East Beauregard Elementary and 4-H club member, says her mom, the leader for the East Beauregard 4-H club, saw the post on social media. She said she is helping Bags for a Cause for her service project.

“We’ve been collecting so many bags, it’s just been a blessing for us to be able to help these ladies and for us to be kinder and considerate of others.”

Fejarang says the support is almost overwhelming.

“It almost makes you want to cry because you always hear the bad news, you know you don’t really hear about people being kind," she said. "That’s our big thing now. Be kind. I feel like this has really brought a small community together.”

Fejarang says their goal is to create 200 sleeping mats by October, but they still need volunteers who can crochet. She also asks if any businesses or organizations in Lake Charles want to become drop off donation spots to contact her through Facebook.

If you are interested in volunteering, there will be a meeting at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, January 30, at the Beauregard Parish Library at 205 S Washington St. in DeRidder.

You can also drop off plastic shopping bags at the DeRidder Fire Northside Station at 1809 N Pine St, Westside Station at 102 Wilson St, or Eastside Station next to Carver Elementary School at 201 Martin Luther King Dr.

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