The Beads for Donuts program returns after a two-year COVID-19 break
The Beads for Donuts program returns after a two-year COVID-19 break

The Beads for Donuts program returns after a two-year COVID-19 break

The beginning of coronavirus pandemic occurred almost two years ago, and just days before Augusta Evans Special School was preparing to host its annual Beads for Donuts collection.

The pearl collection in 2020 had to be canceled. Last year’s collection was also canceled, also due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were slim this year because two years have passed,” said Kelsey Sigler, a special education teacher at Western Mobile School.

A few hours into Saturday’s event, a large box of pearls was filling up as donations began to flow in again.

“We appreciate everyone coming out and donating so much,” said Sigler, who runs the school’s Mardi Gras pearl program. “It really is for the kids and the school.”

In fact, for the first time in two years, people started queuing early on Saturday to donate remnants of Shrovetide pearls in exchange for a Krispy Kreme voucher for a dozen glazed donuts. The coupons can be redeemed at Krispy Kreme stores in Mobile and Foley as well as in Baton Rouge and Metairie, Louisiana.

The donations go to help the school’s Mardi Gras pearl program, which consists of about 50 students aged 18-21.

The education gives students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to learn real job skills such as behavior in the workplace, sorting skills, among others.

Augusta Evans and Krispy Kreme have been teaming up on the Beads for Donuts program since 2001.

“We’re starting as soon as school opens in August and we’re starting back next week,” said Sigler, who has led the program for the past five years. “We want these donations (this weekend), the kids are coming back on Monday and we’re getting busy cleaning and sorting the pearls.”

Asha Kidd, principal at Augusta Evans, said the pearl program is part of the school’s overall technical career courses. The school’s total enrollment is 242 students.

Sigler said the program is popular as it becomes an immersive learning experience about the region’s popular carnival tradition.

“Many of the (students) are not going to experience Mardi Gras (since they have) certain disabilities,” she said. “Even as a teacher, I try to incorporate Shrove Tuesday traditions into Mobile with the Pearl program so they are happy to see them. We play Shrovetide music and talk about the parades. So they get involved with Mardi Gras in their own sense.”

Beads for Donuts also serves as an important fundraiser for the school, as the donated pearls will eventually be repackaged and sold to mysterious communities in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

In recent years, the pearls have been sold to about 300 customers, which has raised about $ 50,000 for the school.

Kidd said she was unsure how much money will be raised from this year’s donation.

“Our pearl program has gotten a hit like most things out there,” she said. “It is one of our most important sources of income for the school. We’re happy to be back in business. “

The collection also takes place on the school property instead of in Mobile’s Krispy Kreme store, where previous Beads for Donut events took place.

Kidd said the location change allowed volunteers social distance via a drive-through event.

On Saturday, the people who donated 12 pounds of pearls (roughly the size of a shopping bag) pulled into their vehicles where they were greeted by a team of volunteers who then collected the pearls and handed the driver the Krispy Kreme coupon.

Pearls for Donuts continues until 16:30 today will happen from 8:30 to 16:30 on Sunday. It was canceled on Friday due to bad weather.

“We expect it to be a big event,” Kidd said. “We expect to have a large audience.”

Sigler said the school does not have a fundraising goal for this year. She’s just happy to see it return.

“We are blessed and lucky we can do that this year,” she said. “This really means a lot to us.”

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