11/28/10 — Mount Olive College bead project kicks off sales

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Mount Olive College bead project kicks off sales

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 28, 2010 1:50 AM

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Mount Olive College's Beads for Baby Claire project kicked off sales last week and the jewelry is proving to be very popular.

When their hand-made beaded jewelry profiting Cure International went on sale last week, Mount Olive College art professor Larry Lean and his students didn't even make it out of the building with their stock before they made their first $95.

"We're not through yet, but the first shot, we had easily over 125 items for sale," Lean said, looking over the table of brightly colored necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

The Beads for Baby Claire project was inspired by Lean's daughter, Katherine Lean, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After witnessing the aftermath of an infant girl's death while on a medical mission trip to Uganda, Miss Lean spoke to her father about wanting to find a way to help children like Claire in third world countries.

The professor repeated the story to the dozen students in the "Art For A Cause" class, and soon, the Beads for Baby Claire participants were having bead-rolling parties, pulling in outside volunteers to help and generating interest around campus and across Wayne County.

Now the beads are finally strung into jewelry and are up for sale, and some of the students are a little shocked at how successful their project has become.

"I can't believe we made that many beads, but it's cool to see people get involved and actually buy them," MOC student Tammy Grady said, after helping a customer pick out an item.

The jewelry is reasonably priced, with men's and women's necklaces available for a $10 minimum donation, bracelets available for $5 and earrings for $5. Stretchy bracelets are also on sale for $3 each or two for $5.

Some of the buyers were interested in the handmade jewelry as gifts, and some, like , were hoping to help support Cure International's outreach efforts by buying the beaded jewelry.

"I heard the original story about the baby, that if they'd had enough money, they could have helped her," freshman Reva Orr said. "No money goes to anywhere else, so I really appreciate that."

The funds are being handled through the college's finance office. Many of the students, and Lean himself, among others have donated their own money to keeping the bead rollers supplied with paper, jewelry-making items and pizza for the late-night bead-rolling sessions.

The students will continue to sell the jewelry from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. this week in the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center at Mount Olive College.

The items are going fast, Lean reported.

"We spent so much time making beads, when we got them ready into necklaces, every one we saw, we wanted to buy ourselves," he joked. "Some of our own students in the project are buying them."

And although the class will end in a few weeks as the semester comes to a close, the students in the project are closer than ever because of the time they've spent working together -- and the project may continue into the spring, or even beyond, Lean said. The group is still rolling beads and will continue selling them in the future.

To streamline the process, donors can make out checks to Mount Olive College and add in notation that it is for the Beads for Baby Claire project, Lean said. When the time comes, the fund will write a single check to Cure International, with all proceeds collected going to help children in need.

To buy jewelry or donate to the project, contact Lean at his office at 658-7181.