LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Thousands of beads thrown in the air during Mardi Gras are recycled to be enjoyed again, thanks to the Autism Society of Southwest Louisiana.
The organization sells beads every year, but volunteers set up early Saturday morning at A-Affordable Storage in Lake Charles so that individuals with autism can enjoy a fun summer at Camp Hopen, a camp where everyone is included.
Kids and adults in the autism community are often separated and secluded, said Angelique Reber, president of the Autism Society of Southwest Louisiana. Reber, who’s been a member of the local chapter for four years, said her daughter is her inspiration.
“I have a six-year-old daughter on the spectrum,” Reber said. “We put our hearts and our lives and our souls into this.”
On the first day after Mardi Gras, Reber and the local chapter collect and sort beads of all shapes and sizes. The recycled beads are sold just in time for the carnival celebrations and parades.
Evan Patterson has been with the Autism Society of SWLA for more than 20 years.
“No two of us are exactly alike,” Patterson said. “People that say, ‘You don’t look like you have autism.’ There’s not really a look."
Krewe members who waited all morning for the sale were happy to support a good cause, explaining that unity is important.
“You gotta support your community,” Stafford Moirs said.
Brian Butler, a member of “Krewe de L’ Amitie,” was one of the first people in line.
“Keeps the money locally, keeps coming around," Butler said.
The bead sale was on a first-come, first-serve basis and on Jan. 19, the Autism Society of SWLA posted on Facebook that they are officially out of beads.
The organization takes beads all year round to sell again next Mardi Gras season.