Sister Celine Maasen, found a way to help others and the environment in living a life of service. Sister Celine is a resident of Saint Clare’s Villa, located on the campus of OSF HealthCare Saint Clare’s Hospital, Alton, IL.

She found many ways to serve people in her community over the years, and more recently took up crocheting—but not with the usual materials, she uses plastic shopping bags. The old, used plastic creates fresh, new handbags and mats, which she gives to people in need.

“A local church, Abundant Life, taught us how to crochet, here in the Villa,” Sister Celine said. “I had never crocheted a day in my life, but now I have been creating items out of plastic bags for over a year now.”

The process of creating these items involves folding, cutting and intertwining the bags and then crocheting it all together. The entire process takes about one day to make one purse, and one and-a-half weeks to make a full mat.

When friends caught wind of Sister Celine’s need for plastic bags for her new hobby and service, they began saving their shopping bags and leaving them at her door overnight. Family also leaves bags for her.

Sister Celine gives away her handmade gifts to whoever wants them. She takes special requests from Villa residents and friends. She has made Bible holders, beach bags and even diaper bags upon request.

She also delivers her hand-made items to the Community Hope Center in Cottage Hills for anyone to take for free.

“I don’t know who gets my bags, but it doesn’t make a difference to me,” Sister Celine said. “I’m just glad that I have the opportunity to bless other people.”

Abundant Life Community Church, with campuses in Alton and Wood River, recently went on a mission trip to the Central American country of Panama, and brought along Sister Celine’s purses and mats.

“I have been hard at work and trying to get as many bags and mats done that I can, so the church will be able to share them with the people in need in Panama,” she said.

Aside from sharing her creations with people in her community and abroad, Sister Celine also volunteers at the Community Hope Center, serving lunch to those in need.

“In one day, I make about 100 sandwiches,” she recalled. “Sometimes we serve over 200 people. This is my way of giving back — I enjoy making people happy.”

When she is not busy making bags, mats or sandwiches, she helps with a variety of parties and events provided for VIlla residents.

“Sister Celine is my right-hand man,” Villa Activities Coordinator Ellen Miller said. “She is always ready and willing to help whenever we need her. Sister truly has a servant’s heart.”

Sister Celine, a three-year resident of Saint Clare’s Villa said, “I enjoy living in the Villa. There is no place I would rather be. I get the opportunity to gather with other people in such a great atmosphere. I have no complaints.”

–From an article by Natalie Macias, OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center

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