BY CAROL SOUTH
Special to the Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — A PBS special sparked a connection that spanned continents and will help women struggling to care for their families.
Members of the Unitarian Peacemaker Needleworkers group last year made a $5,000 difference to women in war-torn Uganda. They held a BeadParty featuring the handmade, recycled-paper beads brought to this country from Uganda by the nonprofit Bead for Life.
Based on last year's success — everything was snapped up within hours — the local group again will sell beads and jewelry Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. All of the 2010 BeadParty proceeds benefit Bead for Life, which in turn directly helps Ugandan women and, by extension, their families.
The event is win-win for both bead makers and purchasers, noted organizer Kathy Prentice, a member of the Unitarian Peacemaker Needleworkers group.
"We did research on it before we did it last year, and [Bead for Life] was very highly rated," she said. "We wanted to support a good organization. Every penny we bring in next Saturday goes back to them."
Items available for this pre-holiday shopping opportunity include short and long necklaces, single- and triple-strand bracelets, band bracelets and earrings. Bags of loose beads also will be sold, a popular item with local beaders last year. Jewelry ranges in price from $5 to $30, which organizers believe is an excellent deal for the vivid adornments.
To make sure they have enough stock, the group doubled their order from the Colorado-based Bead for Life.
"The beads are just beautiful, it's amazing," said Arline Hicks, also a member of the Unitarian Peacemaker Needleworkers. "You just can't believe they're made the way they are."
A small but loose-knit group, members of the Unitarian Peacemakers Needleworkers meet every other Wednesday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. While they gather mainly to quilt and talk, the low-key format does not require expertise or — if the group is working on a joint effort — intense deadlines.
Their mutual quilting efforts reflect a shared interest in and commitment to social justice and related causes. The group previously made a 350 quilt to support the 350.org environmental-awareness event held in October 2009.
The Bead for Life endeavor provided a perfect fit for the Peacemakers Needleworkers — even down to the environmentally-friendly shellac coating each bead.
"The things we do for our quilting projects generally we do a quilt auction for a cause or a quilt to hang up in church," Prentice said.