Old Carnival beads provide jobs - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Old Carnival beads provide jobs

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Old Carnival beads are more than just shiny, plastic throws. They're the essence of a job that helps give so many people a real purpose.

Beads, busy fingers and smiling faces are all expected with Carnival season. The Krewe of Slidellians thrilled the north shore with throws Sunday, and a nearby organization hopes the crowd that gathered those treats can return the favor.

"We do beads and get a paycheck," said worker Stevie Ray Kennedy.

"You know, at Mardi Gras time, people are hollering 'throw me something mister, throw me something mister,' but we holler that all year round," said Dianne Baham, executive director of STARC.

STARC is a group that provides services for developmentally challenged people from birth to adulthood.

"One of the projects that many of our adults - in fact, over 100 adults participate in - is cleaning, sorting and packaging Mardi Gras beads, and those are then sold to the general public" Baham said.

"Sometimes, I be the first one here," Kennedy said. "I love to come to work just to have a job now."

"This year we had people calling in ahead of time and saying, 'I want to order 40 bins, I want to order 100 bins.' All of a sudden, we found ourselves with basically not any beads left to do," Baham said.

Last week there were seven trashcan-size bins that are  now almost empty. This year's success is a mixed blessing.

"It's real important, because that's how these folks earn a monthly pay check," Baham said.

Schools like Pontchartrain Elementary help out with bead drives.

"It's something important you can look forward to - to really look forward to," Kennedy said.

"Several years ago, individuals lived to maybe 30, maybe 40 years of age, but now because they have an enriched and enhanced life, their lives are meaningful and productive," Baham said. "They are working."

She says it's creating a better quality of life for the people they serve.

"It's very important to feel like you have a real mission every day, and working is certainly one of those," Baham said.

Those little plastic beads can be life-changing. You can drop off beads at STARC or north shore fire stations. STARC staff will pick up large donations.

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