Pleasant Acre sells Mardi Gras trinkets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Sarah Cichirillo was intent on her work Tuesday, head bent carefully over a pile of colorful Mardi Gras beads.

&8220;One &8230; two &8230; three,&8221; she counted, sorting the beads by color and size into 12-packs for sale at Pleasant Acre Day School.

Pleasant Acre, open for more than four decades as a school for the mentally handicapped, has its own small business to help raise money. Students at the school sort and count donated Mardi Gras beads for sale in the school&8217;s &8220;Beads Galore&8221; store.

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&8220;We work very hard to make it as professional as we can,&8221; Pleasant Acre Director Mary Ann Foggo-Eidt said.

Sarah and fellow student Susan Ellis are among the hardest workers, Foggo-Eidt and teacher Judy Grimsley said.

&8220;Because they work so hard they get a specialty bracelet,&8221; said Grimsley, pointing to the Mardi Gras beads wrapped around the students&8217; wrists. &8220;They&8217;ve worn them now for a solid week.&8221;

They have a system in place: Susan, whose strength comes in handy when moving the boxes of donated beads, sorts by color and works out the knots; Sarah sorts by length, shape and size.

&8220;We have many steps and many stages to the final result &8212; and (we do this) all year,&8221; Foggo-Eidt said.

Regular metallic beads are sold for $1 per dozen. The &8220;specialty&8221; and &8220;rarity&8221; beads &8212; named for their unusual size or shape &8212; are grouped in smaller packs but are also $1.

The Beads Galore store also sells throws at two dozen for $1.

The project, along with sales at Pleasant Acre&8217;s Some-N-Special Shop, which uses donated goods, help instill a sense of pride in the students.

&8220;It belongs to them,&8221; Foggo-Eidt said. &8220;It&8217;s a way of helping ourselves without putting a hand out.&8221;

Receiving the donated beads and selling the finished product also helps the students interact with the public.

&8220;They love interacting with the community and for people to come into the school and see what they&8217;ve done,&8221; Foggo-Eidt said.

Proceeds from the sales help fund the students&8217; trip to the state Arts Fair, normally held in Biloxi each summer. Grimsley and Foggo-Eidt aren&8217;t sure whether the Arts Fair will even be held this year because of Hurricane Katrina, but they do know one thing for sure.

&8220;We will take a trip,&8221; Foggo-Eidt said. &8220;Regardless of whether Arts Fair is cancelled. They&8217;ve worked too hard.&8221;