The passing parade called Carnival has come and gone, and if you passed a good time, you’re swamped by strands of colorful beads you no longer crave. Why not donate them to New Orleans area organizations that recycle them?
Arc of Greater New Orleans, a United Way agency, collects beads throughout the year. They are stored in a warehouse, and volunteers work with Arc’s clients with disabilities who are paid to sort and repackage them. Bead buyers celebrate Carnival and other annual parade events, including the feasts of St. Patrick and St. Joseph.
The need for beads is especially high this year, said Margi Perez, Arc’s recycling coordinator. More than 175,000 pounds of beads were sorted at the warehouse last year, but this year’s donations have “definitely paled in comparison,” she said.
A labor strike at the Port of Los Angeles before Carnival 2015 contributed to the fall in bead donations, Perez said. “That strike halted the shipping of tons of Mardi Gras beads, so krewes were not throwing as much, and that has cut down on donations,” she said.
Arc is accepting beads at 5700 Loyola Ave. in New Orleans; 925 S. Labarre Road and 3406 Hessmer Ave. in Metairie; 333 Sala Ave. in Westwego; and 3700 Jean Lafitte Parkway in Chalmette.
Beads also may be placed in recycling bins at the Ernest Morial Convention Center; at Clearview Mall, near Semolina Restaurant; at Whole Foods markets on Magazine Street and Veterans Memorial Boulevard; and at Rouses supermarket at the corner of Airline Boulevard and South Labarre Road; all New Orleans public libraries, including the Main Library branch, 219 Loyola Ave., where the throws can be tossed into the mouth of the big green Bead Gator.
St. Michael’s Special School, 1522 Chippewa St., New Orleans, cleans and repackages donated beads and resells them, with the profits benefiting the school.
“It’s a huge fundraiser here,” said Principal Tish Sauerhoff. “The tuition is much lower than what it costs to educate our kids and adults. Tuition is only about 40 percent of the operating budget.”
The bead bins at St. Michael’s are begging for throws. For information about donating and buying beads, call (504) 524-7285.
Some of the drop-off locations are 5th District Savings Bank, 4000 Gen. DeGaulle Dr.; Raising Cane’s, 1406 St. Charles Ave.; Hero Farm Marketing, 3525 Hessmer Ave., Metairie; Lafayette Hotel, 600 St. Charles Ave.; Indigo Hotel, 2302 St. Charles Ave.; PJ’s Coffee, 1420 Annunciation St.; Fleurty Girl, 632 St. Peter St., 3117 Magazine St., and 3313 Severn Ave. in Metairie.
Beads donated to Strive Center Inc., 1139 Napoleon Ave., are sorted and recycled by adults ages 22-80 who are intellectually disabled, said executive director Denise Washington. The nonprofit currently supports about 90 clients, she said.
Bead sales also help pay for recreational activities and an annual gala for Strive clients, Washington said. “We sort and package the beads by length, size and color so that those who buy them can just start throwing,” she said.
Beads may be placed into a recycling bin on the porch of the Napoleon Avenue location, or they can be picked up, Washington said. For information, call (504) 895-2557.
Magnolia Community Services, 100 Central Ave., Jefferson, accepts donations of beads, but doesn’t resell them. The beads are used by the center’s adult clients with disabilities who ride in parades. Donations can be dropped off on the River Road side of the school, in front of the office, Monday through Friday before nightfall.