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Oak Forest girl creates bed mats for homeless veterans

AnnGreenys makes plastic bag bed mats for veterans Friday Oak Forest. | Art Vassy~Sun-Times Media

Anna Greenys makes plastic bag bed mats for veterans Friday in Oak Forest. | Art Vassy~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 11, 2011 7:52AM

Anna Greenys is on a mission to help homeless veterans by creating handmade plastic bed mats, and she’s enlisted an army of local students to help.

Greenys, a sixth-grader at Arbor Park Middle School in Oak Forest, is collecting plastic bags, which will be cut into strips, crocheted into plastic bed mats and donated to homeless veterans.

She heard about the process of crocheting plastic bed mats from her grandmother, Letitia Savage, whose friend had made them with the Hometown Murray Ladies Auxiliary Post 9773. This inspired Greenys to start her project to show her support to those who have served.

“My grandma came home and told me, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea, I want to start doing that,’ ” she said.

Greenys and her mother, Marye, brought the project to the attention of Arbor Park School District 145 administrators and the Parent Teacher Organization and the project took off from there. District 145 and the city of Oak Forest have supported Greenys’ efforts by providing plastic bag drop-off points at all District 145 schools and at city hall.

Anna says she has always carried a strong sense of patriotism.

As a student at Morton Gingerwood Elementary School, Greenys called a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post to replace the school’s well-worn flag with a brand new one.

The VFW member who delivered the flag to the school was impressed by Greenys’ diligence. This flag still flies in front of Morton Gingerwood and is often referred to as Anna’s flag.

Greenys looked up to her grandfather and great-grandfather, who both served in World War II, and would accompany her grandfather to VFW events. Though this project, Greenys is not only showing a sense of dedication to veterans, she is also remembering her grandfather, who passed away last April.

“She thought that it would be a nice way to honor her grandfather,” her mother said.

Over the next month, Greenys will be bringing collected plastic bags to Arbor Park so she and her classmates can begin crocheting the bed mats. On average, it can take one person nearly 800 bags and 40 hours of work to create a single bed mat.

With the assistance of her classmates, Greenys is hoping to make significant progress. Over the summer, Greenys and her peers will be teaming up with women from the Oak Forest Senior Center to continue creating bed mats.

Anna would like to see the project take off in other area schools and youth groups. She hopes it will inspire others to think about homeless veterans on a national level.

“It’s just kindness and compassion,” Marye Greenys said. “If a kid starts and the school starts, maybe someone will pay attention. Maybe something will be done.”

Plastic bags can be dropped off at Oak Forest City Hall, 15440 S. Central Ave.; Arbor Park Middle School, 17303 S. Central Ave.; Scarlet Oak Elementary School, 5731 Albert Drive.; Morton Gingerwood Elementary, 16936 S. Forest Ave.; and Kimberly Heights Elementary School, 6141 Kimberly Drive.

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