Handmade Mardi Gras beads boost confidence

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After taking a temporary break after Hurricane Katrina, Gulf Coast Industries is back in the bead business. There are almost 50 developmentally disabled adults crafting beautiful, handmade Mardi Gras beads at the center. It's an intricate process, stringing each bead one at a time. Joe Buckles says he loves doing it, though.

"I enjoy working on it, yeah," said Buckles. "It takes a whole lot of work to put the together. You have to put them together and thread the needle."

Workshop manager Hilton Glass said it's definitely a labor of love.

"Oh they love it," he said. "They get so much out of it. One, it builds confidence in them. You know if you tell someone that they can do something, they'll be able to do it, and that's what we're encouraging."

James Ware is working on a pair of specialty beads. He says he always looks forward to the work.

"I enjoy being here. I like working here and all the stuff here, and they are good people to work with," says Ware.

And it truly is a job. Each person gets paid for every bead they complete.

"What we do, is the time studies," explains Glass. "And if it takes a certain amount of time to string a bead, we account them, and they are paid by the individual bead. So it gives them, they can work at their own pace."

Glass says they can also make money by sorting old beads that are donated to Gulf Coast Industries.

"What we would like to do this year is have people instead of throwing their beads away are bring them into us so we can recycle them. What we'll do is separate them then repack them and then next year sell them as bulk."

If you're interested in recycling any of your unwanted Mardi Gras beads, even the ones that are broken, just call Gulf Coast Industries at (228) 868-2072.

The group is also selling beads for St. Patrick's Day. A pack of a dozen beads sells for $15.

South Mississippi Regional Center is also collecting left over throws. To find a drop off location near you, just call (228) 868-2923.

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