Arc clients brighten, enrich Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras dance held for Arc of St. Charles clients.

While Mardi Gras has come and gone, the clients of Arc of St. Charles ensure a little part of this year’s party will live on to make next year’s even better.

Following local parades, residents often donate beads they’ve caught to Arc – sometimes by throwing them into the back of a truck that follows a parade. The Arc clients sort, wash, dry, stack, package and repackage the beads for reselling at the Arc’s Norco Mardi Gras store at 36 Apple Street.

There’s also plenty more to find there beyond the Mardi Gras theme. Stuffed animals, trinkets, balloons, graduation hats, footballs, boutique-style necklaces and decor items – the Arc clients make them all, and the shop items will take on different themes depending on the holiday season, with Halloween and Christmas items fitting those respective times of year.

Money raised through sales goes toward supporting Arc of St. Charles. The shop is one of several local Arc-run businesses. Arc established these separate business locations for its transitional vocational programs for individuals with developmental, intellectual and other disabilities, as well as seniors and youths.

These Arc businesses help prepare clients for work in the community.

Another Arc venture includes its recent Mardi Gras ball. Clients get crowned as King and Queen of Mardi Gras after a vote, and high school age children with special needs are invited to take part in all the fun. Clients make floats, partake in dance and karaoke contests and enjoy the music, food and other refreshments on hand.

“Our clients look forward to that every year,” said Maggie Brantley of Arc of St. Charles. “We’ve had different events like that throughout the years. We’ll go into the community and get our people out there for a fun outing, or the community comes to us on our grounds when we host. It’s a lot of fun for everyone.”

On the Westbank of the parish, the Arc’s Cajun Village Thrift Store in Luling is getting its services ramped back up following some slowdown due to Hurricane Ida and COVID-19.

A special service being offered at the thrift store is free shredding of up to 15 pounds of documents for elderly, first responders and veterans for the month of April.

“We’re trying to resume full force with that and want people to come out and take advantage of the service,” said Victoria Bryant, Executive Director of Arc of St. Charles. “We have confidential shredders as well, as the big businesses do … we wanted to do something for our first responders, our elderly and our veterans. March is Disability Awareness Month, which we also wanted to promote awareness of.

“It’s absolutely free to those three groups. We haven’t had a lot of response so far, but we’re hoping that picks up.”

Cajun Village Thrift Store is located at 114 Lakewood Drive in Luling.


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