Metairie Krispy Kreme To Sweeten Mardi Gras Bead Donations With 100,000+ Doughnut Giveaway
There’ll soon be a line wrapped around the Krispy Kreme in Metairie, Louisiana, but it won’t be exclusively to buy doughnuts, fritters and crullers.
“We consider the ArcGNO Mardi Gras Beads-for-Doughnuts recycle drive a holiday, so it’s mandatory for all the staff to show up and help out,” said store supervisor Chanel Jones. “The customers love it. The employees love it. The owners and the district and regional managers come to help out and watch the spectacle. It’s like Mardi Gras all over again.”
On Monday, March 19, and Tuesday, March 20, at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop at 825 Clearview Pkwy., the independently owned franchise is anticipating giving away more than 8,667 dozen Original Glazed Doughnuts in exchange for recycled Mardi Gras beads to be donated to Arc of Greater New Orleans, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“Oh, my God, they get excited,” said Jones of her sugar-fueled customers who fill her store. “I need a better word to describe it than ‘excited.’ Some bring baskets of beads, some bring vanloads of beads. They carry and drag them into the store to be weighed. We give away a dozen doughnuts in exchange for a 12-pound donation. They can leave with a free box of glazed doughnuts, which usually sells for $10.85, or take a coupon to use at another time. Last year we gave one customer more than 50 coupons which means they donated more than 600 pounds of Mardi Gras beads.”
ArcGNO’s Mardi Gras Recycle Center, one of several social enterprises ArcGNO manages, is a year-round business that employs 80 people with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual and behavioral limitations. These full and part-timeemployees along with volunteers sort, band, repackage and sell beads to carnival riders. This past Mardi Gras, ArcGNO sorted and packaged approximately 300,000 pounds of beads and is now in the process of collecting for next year’s parades.
“This Krispy Kreme partnership means a lot to ArcGNO and to those we serve,” said ArcGNO’s executive director Dr. Stephen Sauer. “As a nonprofit whose major source of income is Medicaid reimbursements for services rendered, we live on a very slim budget. Our enterprises, like the Mardi Gras Recycle Center, not only provide income for clients, but they also provide revenue to the agency which uses that revenue to enhance services beyond what Medicaid funds. Assuming past trends continue, this two-day drive could account for as much as 20 percent of our yearly collection, which last year exceeded $200,000 in sales. The fact that in 48 hours, with the help of Krispy Kreme, we can collect the amount of beads we do is huge. That’s why we are so thankful for this ongoing relationship.”
Krispy Kreme and ArcGNO, a United Way partner agency that also offers family service coordination, respite, personal care, supported employment, day habilitation and supported living assistance, launched the collaboration in 2012, with both the Metairie and Marrero, Louisiana, locations participating that year. Since then, the Metairie location has participated yearly. In 2014, the Baton Rouge Krispy Kreme started collecting as well. A Krispy Kreme in Mobile, Alabama has also contributed beads to the cause.
“We do this to give back to the community,” said Metairie Krispy Kreme’s office manager and bookkeeper Mary Beth Aron. ‘When we started the initiative, it wasn’t that big. It has definitely grown, and now it’s exploded. We want to give back to the community that supports us.”
“It gets bigger and bigger every year, and we give thousands of coupons away,” said Metairie Krispy Kreme’s manager Vanessa Kellum. “Last year we collected more than 52 tons of beads. It was astronomical.”
“Since this partnership started with Krispy Kreme, we have collected well over 500,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads, the majority of that coming from the Krispy Kreme in Metairie,” ArcGNO’s Sauer said. “That means Krispy Kreme has given away at least 41,000 dozen doughnuts.”
“I think people are driven to donate for three reasons,” Sauer said. “People do like a good doughnut, and they love supporting our mission of improving the lives of folks with disabilities, a population that often goes underserved. Finally, more and more people are thinking about ways to help protect the environment. This year especially, we have all become more educated on how beads clog our city’s catch basins. We are delighted to be part of a growing effort to lessen the environmental impact of Mardi Gras. Our recycling business is booming because well-intentioned and engaged citizens want to make a difference, and this is an easy way to do so.”
ArcGNO supplies Krispy Kreme with pallets and large box containers that can hold up to 1,500 pounds of Mardi Gras beads. Once the boxes are full, they are brought to the ArcGNO headquarters at 925 Labarre Rd. At the recycling facility the beads are sorted by size and type and sold at different prices, depending on market demand. This past Mardi Gras, ArcGNO was selling 30-pound crawfish sacks of beads for $35 – $65 each, with Mardi Gras pearls and chunky beads selling for the highest prices. ArcGNO reps anticipate producing between 2,500 – 3,000 bags of beads to sell from the Krispy Kreme recycling drive.
“ArcGNO has become synonymous with bead recycling, and the Beads-for-Doughnuts drive is important to us because it helps us create employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to help them live with a maximum level of personal growth, independence and inclusion,” Sauer said. “Our mission is to secure for them the chance to develop, function and live to their fullest potential.”
Metairie Krispy Kreme’s store supervisor Jones said the staff helps customers with their beads from their cars to the store, and walks them back to their cars with their dozens of doughnuts. Donations will be taken from 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., but they often stay open much later because they don't turn anyone away.
Jones said the chance to trade in something sparkly for something sugary sweet is often sprinkled with goodwill.
“The children who donate are especially excited to get free glazed doughnuts in exchange for their bead donations,” she said, “because they know it’s going to a special cause, to help other children.”
ArcGNO participant Eric Bertrand works to sort donated beads at the ArcGNO Mardi Gras Recycle Center.
PHOTO CREDIT: ArcGNO