GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Many may be wondering what to do with all of those beads you caught at parades this year. Gulf Coast Industries has a way for you to put those Mardi Gras beads to very good use.
The company has been around for more than 35 years and workers recycle Mardi Gras beads every year. Already this year, they've collected about 1,800 pounds of beads, and expect to get thousands more.
Workers, like Dominick Pitts, know what it takes to get this job done.
"We have to put 12 on each arm so the staff can count them out, and then Mr. Allen puts them in a bag to be processed, and then they have to be shipped out," Pitts said.
Pitts works at Gulf Coast Industries, which employs more than 50 individuals in the work activities program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The job of recycling Mardi Gras beads gives individuals an opportunity to learn, train, work and earn money.
Gulf Coast Industries partners with Gulf Coast Mental Health Center every year on the bead project. Raymond Paul is always excited when he gets a chance to do work like this.
"I like to work up here," Paul said. "We wash beads. Wash them, rinse them, clean them."
Wayne Holliman has done this type of work many times after Mardi Gras. He says staying busy makes him feel good.
"It's a place to work. I like doing that, because it gives me a place to work. It's a workshop," Holliman said.
Assistant Manager Allen Forrest believes this work is important because it provides the workers with income and personal satisfaction.
"There's nothing better than seeing a smiling face of someone coming in knowing that they're going to go to work. That they have some place to socialize, feel like they belong in a community somewhere," Forrest said.
"It's fun working here. We get to make money," Pitts said.
And making money doing something you love is always a joy.
Gulf Coast Industries has a number of bead collection sites all across the Gulf Coast. Check their website for the latest list of drop-off locations: http://www.gulfcoastindustriesms.com/index.html