Center for Women’s Studies holds annual jewelry sale

Bead for Life

As the holidays approach, so does the weight of gift-giving. Some students might find themselves scrounging for any change they can find to buy the perfect gift for their loved ones.

Fortunately, The Center for Women’s Studies has begun to host its annual Bead for Life sale. The sale is located in the Women’s Center and will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., before Dec. 17.

“Bead for Life is a program that was started 10 years ago to help the women of Uganda raise themselves out of extreme poverty,” said Emily Kelley, coordinator of the Center for Women’s Studies. “It is an 18-month to two-year program of schooling that first teaches these women to make these beads. The (proceeds) help the women support themselves through the Bead for Life program during which the organization teaches them a profession.”

This is the fourth year the Women’s Center has hosted a Bead for Life sale.

“I was so impressed that such a high amount of the proceeds from the sale go back either directly in the hands of these women or into their education program,” Kelley said. “I’d never seen a charity quite like this where less than 5 percent of the proceeds goes into the administration of the program. I was so impressed with that I wanted to be a part of it.”

Participating in Bead for Life is a great way to feel good about the present you buy, she said.

“You’ll know that your gift is doing two things – it’s giving a gift to someone who you love and it’s also making a contribution to the life of another woman or child in Uganda,” she said. “A tiny amount of money that you spend here has a profound effect on the life of a person in Uganda. Even a small $20 item will literally change the life of someone there.”

The Center for Women’s Studies sends all proceeds from the sale back to Bead for Life.

“We are a nonprofit organization, which means that 100 percent of our net assets are reinvested into our poverty programs, and a member of the Fair Trade Federation and a provisional member of the World Fair Trade Organization,” according to

Bead for Life makes an impact on the lives of its participants long after the program ends.

“It helps them buy property, build a house and set them up so their children can inherit from them,” Kelley said. “In Uganda, until you own property and are set up so your children can inherit, the government does not recognize you.”

Bead for Life volunteer Claire Eagle said the program has changed her global outlook.

“I always saw it around but didn’t pay attention,” Eagle said. “Seeing where the profit goes made me pay more attention to the world. You don’t realize there are people living on a dollar a day, but when you do realize it, it makes you want to help in any way you can.”

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25 a day.

All of the volunteers in the Women’s Center are involved in Bead for Life the project.

“Whether it is writing price tags, taking inventory of the items or helping set up the display, they are all involved,” Kelley said. “They all get connected to these women.”

Bead for Life has helped those in the Women’s Center think globally, she said. It has especially geared them toward economic thinking, largely because the women who make the beads strive to pull their families out of extreme poverty.

The Center hopes the sale will have an effect on the campus.

“If they see how much of an impact it has toward those women, it reciprocates and they feel empowered, too. Because they are supporting this business and not only the women in Uganda, but their children too,” said Sophomore Monica Velasquez. “You know you’re not wasting money because all of it is being put towards their education.”

Aside from jewelry, the sale includes: handbags, aprons, hand cream and a make-your-own jewelry option.