After collecting over 6,200 crisp packets, which will be turned into at least 20 sleeping bags and 42 survival blankets, the local JCI chapter recently went on to win an award at the JCI European Conference for Best Local Community Impact Project in Europe.
In December 2020, the local branch looked at different ways of helping the homeless and considered how each activity would work with the pandemic.
From their research, they came across a new initiative called the Crisp Packet Project and decided it would be a great way that everyone could safely get involved with covid-19 to raise awareness for the issue. Not only helping homeless people, this project was cost-effective and environmentally friendly, as it helps keep plastic out of the landfill.
The initiative, which originated in the UK, was spotted by two ladies, Karen Burke and Jackie Gunning, who saw the need for it in Ireland too.
Members of the local branch invested their time to collect clean foil-lined crisp packets on behalf of the project founders, which will now be made into either survival blankets or sleeping bags for the homeless people in Ireland. It takes 75 crisp packets to make one of the survival blankets and 150 bags to make the sleeping bags.
After learning more about the reality of the homeless crisis in Ireland, with young people (18-24 ) particularly vulnerable, JCI Mayo were motivated to create a better future for them.
Collecting crisp packets to create the survival blankets to provide comfort to those in need, the crisp packets are washed and joined together to make a blanket. The crisp packets have a silver lining that reflects heat and traps the warmth underneath the blanket, helping people to stay warmer for longer.
An extra bonus to collaborating on this initiative is that the crisp packet project recycles flexible plastic to make these waterproof survival blankets and sleeping bags. A crisp packet can take up to 80 years to decompose, so for each blanket, that’s 6,000 recycling years.
Speaking on the initiative, Deborah McHugh, 2020 JCI Mayo Director of Community, said: "With restrictions put in place just as we were launching the project we really didn't know what way it would go.
"But people posted on packages of crisp packets, my postman mustn't have known what was happening as I was getting so many packages, while closed. It really was amazing to see the response. To be able to recycle whilst helping the homeless was a win-win."
Now, Westport woman Jenny Murray has also got involved and is helping the ladies in Roscommon to make the blankets from the crisp packets collected.
JCI Mayo want to thank everyone far and wide for posting in their crisp packets and supporting this worthy project. Thrilled with the response they received and knowing the positive impact it will make, they are proud that this project received the award for Best Community Impact. Now their colleagues across Europe have seen the support from their local communities and can follow in Mayo’s footsteps and start their own Crisp Packet Projects.