WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)-- After seeing the idea in another part of the country, MercyOne breast surgeon Dr. Scott Stoeger worked with a team of colleagues to turn sterilization wraps into mats and sleeping bags for the homeless.
The project is called the "Blue Mat Project".
"We've been able to take larger wraps and sew them into sleeping bags," said Dr. Stoeger. "They are thermal and water resistant, so will help a lot, especially in the colder seasons."
In addition to sewing on his own, Dr. Stoeger held team gatherings at his home to assemble more than 60 mats and sleeping bags. The group also purchased inexpensive pillows to complete the bundles. "Several hospitals across the country have done similar projects with the mats, but you need to have something to put your head on," he said.
Dr. Stoeger also plans to donate mats and sleeping bags to the Catholic Worker House and Salvation Army.
With dozens of bundles now assembled, Dr. Stoeger has made his first donation to Peoples Community Health Clinic in Waterloo.
People's Chief Executive Officer Christine Kemp is grateful for the compassion of Dr. Stoeger and said that being "able to provide [homeless patients] with a mat and pillow that can survive cold, wet elements" brings them some peace of mind.