Bead sale benefits Ugandans |

Bead sale benefits Ugandans

BeadforLife party proceeds provide aid to female refugees

Margaret Hair

BeadforLife works with women in Uganda to make beads out of recycled paper. Those beads are used in jewelry, which then is distributed through community parties, such as the one from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Artists' Gallery of Steamboat. Jewelry will be available for purchase at $5 to $30 per item.

— Routt County residents will have a chance to purchase beaded jewelry, sample East African cuisine and support business opportunities and a better life for Ugandan women at a community party.

The Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat will sponsor a BeadforLife party from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at its Lincoln Avenue location. BeadforLife is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women living on less than $1 a day in Uganda, said Storey Blackwell, a business assistant with the group’s Boulder office.

“We enroll women in our program to learn how to make paper beads,” Blackwell said, explaining the beads are made with vibrantly colored recycled paper. Those women – many of them HIV-positive or refugees of a civil war, all of them living in extreme poverty – get money directly from BeadforLife when the organization purchases the beads they make. The products are distributed through the group’s Web site and through parties such as the one at Artists’ Gallery.

“One of the main vehicles for selling our beads here in the U.S. and in other areas are the bead parties,” Blackwell said, adding that each party host is given an informational DVD and a CD of songs performed by the BeadforLife artisans to play during the event.

“It’s similar to kind of a Tupperware party, where people get together in someone’s home or at an event like they’re having at the gallery, and we send out a big box with a minimum of a couple hundred items,” Blackwell said. “The hostess invites her friends or her community or members from her church and holds this bead party to educate her guests about extreme poverty and what BeadforLife is doing to eradicate it.”

Mary Levingston, who helped organize the Artists’ Gallery event, said she became interested in the organization partially because her daughter works in its Boulder office.

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“She felt like it was something that people in Steamboat would enjoy, because we have so many people who like to help others who are in need,” Levingston said. Beaded jewelry will be available to purchase at the event for $5 to $30. Proceeds from those sales go back to Uganda, helping women to feed their families, buy medicine, pay for school fees or start their own small businesses.

Levingston said the low prices and timing of the event could make it an opportune time to buy socially conscious Christmas gifts.

“I thought it would be also, this time of year, an inexpensive way to give some nice jewelry,” Levingston said.

If you go

What: BeadforLife community party and sale

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat, 1009 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: Beaded jewelry will be priced at $5 to $30; there is no cost to get in to the party

Call: Mary Levingston at 879-5388