It’s not uncommon for family members to come and drop off loads of plastic shopping bags at Yuet Jin’s home in Sault Ste. Marie’s P-Patch neighbourhood.
That’s because the 85-year-old has been busy crafting handbags out of the plastic bags and selling them, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to SOYA (Save Our Young Adults From Prescription Drug Abuse).
With some help translating Cantonese from her daughter, Mary Jin-Moore, Jin tells SooToday that it takes around 80 plastic shopping bags and three to four days of crocheting just to create one handbag.
“As soon as COVID came and she couldn’t get to the stores to buy more yarn and stuff, that’s when she really got into it more,” said Jin-Moore.
Jin has made more than 200 handbags since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Daughter-in-law Laurie LaRock-Jin says Jin was a little down from not getting out during the pandemic. But when LaRock-Jin and her husband would come visit, they would often bring her shopping bags so that Jin could keep cutting them into strips and crocheting them together.
“She wouldn’t even continue to visit - I could see her mind going, and she was taking the bags,” said LaRock-Jin. “She started cutting them right during our visit.”
“I could see she had a purpose. It was exciting for her.”
Jin began giving the handbags to people. LaRock-Jin then began to advertise the bags on social media, selling them to the members of her Facebook group for $25 each.
“I said to mom, ‘I’m going to try and sell these for you,’ and she’s like, ‘oh, I don’t need the money, just give them away.’ And I said, ‘no mom, you put a lot of work into this, and we’re going to try and sell them.’ I posted pictures, and I sold out right away,” LaRock-Jin said.
Yuet didn’t want any of the proceeds from the sale of her bags initially, instructing LaRock-Jin to give the money to charity instead.
“She wants to give back to our community by making things and donating to a good cause like SOYA,” said Jin-Moore.
More information on how to purchase Jin's creations can be found by LaRock-Jin's private social media group.