Pi Beta Phi holds event to benefit Ugandan women

The sisters of Pi Beta Phi raised $2,000 for impoverished Ugandan women with their first ever BeadforLife party Friday at the Brown-Lupton University Union, said a student who helped organize the event.

Items sold at the event included various styles of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, beads and jewelry bags. The actual beads are made by the Ugandan women out of types of recycled paper and magazines. Prices ranged from $5 for bangle bracelets to $30 for five-strand necklaces.

McKenzie Zieser, a junior strategic communication major, helped organize and bring the program to the university after a visit to a Colorado music festival last summer. Zieser said she spoke with a representative of BeadforLife, corresponded with him through e-mail and went to the Web site, www.BeadforLife.org, to find out more about the organization.

Junior education major Melissa Crutchfield attended the event and contributed to the organization by purchasing some bracelets.

“I actually already had some (bracelets), but it’s a really cool cause because it directly benefits the women of Uganda and (the bracelets) are very stylish and cute,” Crutchfield said.

Pi Beta Phi member and sophomore strategic communication major Natalie Look worked at the BeadforLife event and said she supported the cause and thought having the event could help make a difference for the women in Uganda.

“They need basic necessities,” Look said. “We just want to try to help their standard of living.”

Look said Zieser brought samples of the beads to a Pi Beta Phi meeting and sparked an interest in the sorority.

Pi Beta Phi President Polly Niccoli said she was proud of Zieser and members of her sorority.

“It’s so wonderful that one of our members thought to bring this to our campus,” Niccoli said. “It’s such a wonderful cause, and we can really help the needs of others.”

According to www.BeadforLife.org, the organization is a nonprofit that provides impoverished Ugandan women opportunities to “lift their families out of poverty by making beaded jewelry out of recycled paper.” Many of the women are refugees and HIV positive mothers who are living in extreme poverty and struggle to provide basic necessities for their families. The brochures and information provided by Pi Beta Phi said $7.52 out of every $10 go directly to the Ugandan women to aid in their poverty.

“In addition to buying and selling the beads, BeadforLife sponsors community development projects in health, vocational training for impoverished youth, affordable housing, and business development… Projects are supported with the net profits from the sale of the beads, and support not only beaders, but other impoverished people living in Uganda,” according to the BeadforLife Web site.

Zieser said the $5 bangle bracelets were the most popular items sold Friday. She said she wasn’t sure if Pi Beta Phi would sponsor the event again next year.

“There is a possibility we’ll bring (the event) back,” she said. “We first have to figure out how successful it was for the chapter.”

Niccoli said the only reason the sorority would not sponsor the event again would be if next year’s Pi Beta Phi executive council didn’t approve. Niccoli said she thinks the sorority will hold another BeadforLife party, especially given the success of the event and the high number of sorority members that volunteered.

“I really don’t think that will happen,” Niccoli said of the possibility of not hosting another BeadforLife party. “It was so easy and fun, but it will depend on the new leadership.”