Bead Benefits Combine Philanthropy & Fashion

by Abbe Kirsch

(June 14, 2007) Holding bead parties to benefit school children in Africa may be the latest Larchmont fad. Sunday, June 3 was the second Bead Benefit in Larchmont, and more may be in the works. A combination of fashion and philanthropy for the elementary set, the bead benefits are raising funds to help African girls pay their school fees and complete their education.

beadingJenna Hart, a Murray Avenue first-grader, hosted the first Beads for Education benefit on Sunday, April 29. She invited eleven other first graders from Leigh-Ann Pieragostini’s class along with the teacher and the children’s mothers to spend the afternoon having tea and sweets and creating jewelry with beads. What they were also doing was raising money to help girls in the Maasaii region of Kenya finish high school.

Each girl made a donation of $20 and was able to design her own necklace and bracelet. As they learned the craft, the six and seven-year-olds also learned that some girls do not get to go to school the way they do.

While the girls were beading, the moms were shopping from a selection of jewelry designed by Carrie Salafia, a Larchmont resident and the brainchild behind the bead benefit.

When Dr. Salafia’s is not busy working at her “day job” as a pathologist, she is beading. Either she is producing jewelry, which is now showcased at La Gravinese in Larchmont, or she is teaching jewelry-making through Continuing Education courses at Mamaroneck High School. Dr. Salafia discovered Beads for Education and committed herself to helping young girls through her beading. She donates all the money she makes by selling her jewelry designs, and now raises additional funds via the bead benefits. So far, Dr. Salafia has “adopted” a girl named Ruth, currently in the fifth grade, and has paid for her education almost through the eleventh grade. It takes $30 keep a Kenyan girl like Ruth in school for one month.

At a bead benefit, each girl gets to design and make her own jewelry. The proceeds go to helping an African girl complete her education.

The Murray first graders set an initial goal of sending a girl to school for 6 months, but by the end of the event, they had raised enough money for 30 months. One mom, Terri Girardi, was so impressed by the purpose of the party and the focus of the girls, she committed to hosting the next event with her daughter Zoe Yunger’s class.

Beading takes concentration for these first graders.

On June 3, Zoe and her mom hosted the second Bead Benefit, and with the help of nine first graders, raised enough money for 11 more months of school for Ruth. The girls listened intently to the purpose and benefit of the party and then began work on their designs. Each girl displayed her patterns, colors, and shapes to the adults standing by.

“It was like a party with my friends; we all made jewelry and ate cookies, and I got to help girls somewhere else that don’t get to go to school,” commented Jenna Hart. Her younger sister Halle insisted, “I want to have a bead party!”

Abbe Kirsch is the mother of Jenna and Halle Hart.