Laurel Ridge employees making sleeping mats for the homeless

For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2017

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

jill manueal

A service project Laurel Ridge employees and other volunteers are undertaking has multiple beneficiaries – the homeless and the environment.

Every other week, they get together and recycle plastic bags into a material that can be knitted or crocheted to create a sleeping mat for a homeless person.

“When we get the plastic, we make a product called plarn, or plastic yarn,” says Laurel Ridge education support specialist Jill Manuel, who started the initiative at the Fauquier Campus. “We cut the plastic and then we link it together to create yardage and then we will knit and crochet it into a mat.”

It takes 700 plastic bags to make one sleeping mat. The thicker and heavier the bag, the better the plarn.

The mats will be donated to Micah Ecumenical Ministries in Fredericksburg.

Manuel started working on the mats with a friend, and when her colleagues heard about what she was doing, they wanted to help out. Fauquier Campus Dean Caroline Wood offered space at Laurel Ridge for the volunteers to do their plarning. Volunteers have met up several times already.

“I’m so excited that it’s taken on life like it has,” Manuel says. “I’ve been collecting bags for more than a year and I didn’t expect this much support. It was just something I wanted to do to help out my community.”

There are no age requirements for those interested in helping out with the plarning, and donations of plastic bags are welcome at both the Fauquier Campus and the Middletown Campus.

To find out more information, contact Manuel at (865) 919-6206, [email protected] or [email protected].

Those wishing to donate bags to the Middletown Campus, can contact Kristin Iden at [email protected].



Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.