by Beth Stauffer

This is the first in a three part series featuring ideas for unique Christmas gifts.  Up next will be a feature about the top online gifts of 2012 followed by a feature about gift giving that simultaneously supports locally owned New Haven businesses.

Looking for something different to gift someone special with in your life?  Have a woman on your shopping list that is hard to shop for or already has everything they need?  Want to give a gift that gives back this Christmas?  Then I have an unusual suggestion for you.

WBCL's Mid Morning Host Lynne Ford

Bead For Life is an international, non-profit organization that works to eradicate poverty in the lives of women in Uganda.  Bead For Life accomplishes this, according to its website, by “creating sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of extreme poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone.”

In layman’s terms, this means that impoverished Ugandan women are given an opportunity to learn a trade while earning a steady source of income, enabling the women to change their lives.  Ugandan women participating in the Beading Program are taught how to roll beads from recycled paper sources and then create beautiful, handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.  Last year alone, over 12,000 Ugandans living in households with the 1,400 program participants were positively influenced by the Bead For Life program.

Last week, local radio station WBCL 90.3 FM hosted the first ever ‘Bead For Life’ event of its kind at The Summit (formerly the campus of Taylor University) Fort Wayne.  According to Lynn Ford, WBCL’s Mid-Morning Host, “We were shocked to find out that there has never been a radio station in the country to host a Bead For Life party for its listeners.  Since the two main ways that Bead For Life sells its jewelry is online or at a Bead For Life party, sort of similar to a Tupperware Party, we felt this was an extraordinary opportunity to come alongside Bead For Life and support them.”

Indeed, that is exactly what happened as WBCL’s listeners attended the Bead For Life party at The Summit in droves, purchasing over 1,800 pieces of jewelry with sales totaling over $14,000 for the Bead For Life ministry.  “Our listeners have responded like crazy,” said Ms. Ford of the event, adding “Not just because of the jewelry, but because of what it does.  It literally changes the lives of women and their families.”

“One of the things that sets bead for life apart is that 92% of what Bead For Life raises goes directly to the women in Uganda.  Only 8% is used for overhead and fundraising.  That’s almost unheard of in non-profits,” said Ms. Ford of the organization.  In addition to its not-for-profit status, Bead For Life is also a member of the Fair Trade Federation and a provisional member of the World Fair Trade Organization.

Even though WBCL’s Bead For Life party has passed, there is still plenty of time to order Christmas gifts thru the Bead For Life website (  Prices range from $5.00 for beaded bracelets up to $28 for the 82 inch long Etana (which in Swahili means “strength”) necklace, which could also double as a belt or even a tree garland!  Bracelets, necklaces, and earrings are available for virtually every budget in between.

POSTED: 12/05/12 at 7:09 am. FILED UNDER: Church, News