"We've never really had this problem before," said Margie Perez, recycling coordinator for the Arc of Greater New Orleans Mardi Gras Recycle Center. "Normally we find ourselves with a lot of beads that need to be sorted at this time, but this year we've had such a tremendous outpouring of volunteers, we've run out of beads and need to find more, and soon."
The beads Perez speaks of are donated beads that Arc collects throughout the year and stores in their warehouse. Arc then employs people with intellectual disabilities, who along with volunteers, sort and repackage the beads, which are then sold to float riders.
Proceeds from sales help pay hourly wages for Arc team members working in the bead room. However, Arc is now out of beads to sort and package and is now asking for the public's help.
"We depend on the generosity of the public to donate beads, and many have done so throughout the years," Perez said.
Last year Arc sorted over 175,000 pounds of beads, but this year the supply of donations has definitely been down in comparison to past years, she said. Part of the problem Perez believes was the labor strike at the Port of Los Angeles last year prior to Mardi Gras.
"That strike halted the shipping of tons of Mardi Gras beads so some krewes were not throwing as much and that has cut down on donations," she said.
Perez said other than a few boxes of krewe beads, the recycling center is completely out of beads for sorting.
Arc is asking residents who have unwanted beads to donate them to the recycling center. Beads can be dropped off at any of Arc's Metro New Orleans centers, or they can place them at locations where Arc's purple recycle bins are located.
Beads may be delivered to any of the Arc centers: 925 S. Labarre Road, Metairie;
5700 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans; 333 Sala Avenue, Westwego; 3406 Hessmer Avenue, Metairie; and 3700 Jean Lafitte Pkwy. Chalmette.
Other locations where recycle bins are available are: Clearview Mall near Semolina Restaurant, Metairie; Whole Foods Market at Magazine and Veterans Boulevard stores; Mardi Gras World, near the Convention Center; and Rouses at Airline and South Labarre Road.
Arc of Greater New Orleans is committed to securing for all people with intellectual disabilities and delays the opportunity to develop, function and live to their fullest potential. Arc currently serves 1000 children and adults from birth through adulthood in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes through various services such as Family Services Coordination, Respite, Personal Care, Employment/Habilitation and Supported Living assistance.
The Arc-GNO is a United Way partner agency.