NEW ORLEANS -- The Joy Center at St. Michael's Special School is not such a busy place these days. Students are helping schools prepare for fairs, but not sorting and recycling Mardi Gras beads.
The huge bins that are normally overflowing with recycled beads are empty. St. Michael's sold out this Mardi Gras.
"We've never had sales that big," said St. Michael's Special School principal Jane Silva. "We sold out of everything we had 10 days before Mardi Gras even began. It's the first time ever."
At the Strive Center Uptown, they also report business was up this Mardi Gras.
"It was tremendous this year," said Strive Center Director Laura Jensen. "We had a lot of beads for sale, and we're looking forward to an even better year next year."
At the ARC bead sorting center in Metairie, they say the economy brought in new business.
"We saw a lot of new people who found out about us, and they were saying you're the cheapest thing in town," said Margie Perez at the ARC Bead Center.
So now all three agencies say they are looking for donations of those Mardi Gras beads you caught, but no longer want to keep, because it is not only important for the agency. It is also important for those who work there, like Jeff.
Recycled bead sales bring in valuable income for the charities.
"We need beads, because the beads is a great part of our Joy Center which keeps our clients busy," said Jane Silva at St. Michael's.
"They're very important to our future existence, and also to our clients who receive a check," added Laura Jensen at the Strive Center.
The bead sorting programs provide vocational training for the clients, who look forward to their paychecks as much as you do.
"A lot, a lot, a lot. I got to get back to work," said Strive Center Client Tenell Thomas.
"I like it, but I save it, and I do things with my friends," added Joy Center Student Julie McCann.
"We need everything that you have caught from a float. Send it to us," begged Margie Perez at the Strive Center.
To donate beads, you can reach St. Michael's Special School at 524-7285 during school hours. The Strive Center Uptown can be reached at 895-2557, and the ARC can be reached ni Metairie at 837-5105.