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Lee County paramedic working off the clock to help the homeless

Jessica Walter, EMS helping the homeless
Posted at 1:08 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 18:38:36-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — A Lee County Paramedic says her obligation to help the community, doesn’t stop once her shift is over.

Jessica Walter works as a paramedic for Lee County Emergency Services and is also a student at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).

In her spare time, Walter has been collecting used plastic bags and turning them into mats for the Lee County Homeless Coalition.

Walter says, how it works, is she cuts the bags into strips, then ties them together to make what she calls, plarn balls.

If you are curious, one plarn ball is made up of 40 total plastic bags.

“It’s very similar to what yarn would look like. and then once those 40 are woven together, rolled together, that’s one ball of plarn. Then I believe that 500 of those equals one of the six-foot by three-foot-wide mats,” said Walter.

Her project also serves as her community service requirement for her B.S. in Health Science at FGCU.

While the project does help her towards a degree, it was her job as a first responder that inspired her to take action.

“I feel like, as a paramedic, we do have that intimate relationship with those patients and we get a close-up look as to what they are going through and their struggles and being able to help get them a basic necessity that’s almost taken for granted like sleeping somewhere soft and comfortable and that feeling of warmth when we are trying to sleep and the plastic bags and mats ultimately can do that for these individuals,” said Walter.

On Thursday, Walter says she hasn’t hit 500 balls of plarn yet, but she has turned in 16 plarn balls.

That’s a total of 640 bags, Walter has had to wrangle together.

It’s a good start for a great cause and just another way Walter says she can support the people she helps on a daily basis.