MacDonald Training Center seeks Gasparilla beads to recycle

Give us your beads! That's the request from the MacDonald Training Center in Tampa, which provides a way for people with disabilities to develop real-life skills, and take part in vocational training.

Every year, tons of plastic beads are tossed either into Tampa Bay or into the trash after Tampa’s Gasparilla celebrations, but clients at the MacDonald Training Center are recycling and repurposing the colorful, plastic necklaces.  

“The City of Tampa puts different collection bins out at local community centers,” explained Libby Barnes, development coordinator for the MacDonald Training Center. “Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful also does a big clean up after the parade and they give us those beads. Anyone can donate their beads as well. Maybe they’ve been sitting in their closet for many years. We’re happy to take them.”

Clients at the MacDonald Training Center go through thousands of strands of beads, separating the broken beads from the specialty beads and the beads with logos. The beads are then packaged according to size and shape. 

Barnes said many of the MacDonald Training Center clients don’t get to be a part of Gasparilla for a variety of reasons including transportation issues or physical limitations. 

“This is really a way for them to say, ‘Hey, I am a part of this time-honored Tampa tradition and I get to experience this my way by sorting these beads, by repackaging them and giving them back to the community,’ ” said Barnes. 

Once the beads are cleaned and repackaged, the MacDonald Training Center sells them as a way to raise money. 

You can drop off your old beads to any the Tampa collection sites below:

Copeland Park Community Center
11001 North 15th Street

Kate Jackson Community Center
821 South Rome Avenue

Loretta Ingraham Recreation Complex
1611 North Hubert Avenue

MacDonald Training Center
(Weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
5420 West Cypress Street

Port Tampa Community Center
4702 West McCoy Street

For more information click here.