By Matt Wiley
They come in numbers for months at a time, stacking high and filling mailboxes, pointing fingers while brandishing insincere smiles and promises of a better tomorrow. If elected, of course.
As November nears, the 2012 election season is peaking, which means the amount of political propaganda and flyers appearing in mailboxes won’t soon be getting any smaller. Kathi Stoy is tired of the “BS,” and she has found a way to turn a nuisance into a nifty accessory that supports a good cause.
“We get so many of those political fliers, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do something with them?’” she says.
So, Stoy began making beads out of the fliers and started stringing them together into necklaces, bracelets and earrings. In the spirit of the political season, she calls her jewelry-making hobby-turned fund raiser “BS Beads,” a name that, she says, is pretty fitting.
“We went though several name ideas, but I think that most of the political fliers contain a lot of ‘BS,’ to put it bluntly,” she says, laughing. “So, I decided to make beads out of ‘BS.’ I thought about spelling the whole name out, but people seem to get the idea.”
Stoy just recently began making the beads, and selling them at the SoundExchange, a popular record store on N. Nebraska Ave., just a few miles from New Tampa, where she works. But, aside from that, she says, she really hasn’t been advertising her hobby —and media attention isn’t really what she’s looking for with the “jewelry.”
From BS To Feeding The Homeless
What she is interested in, however, is raising money for Trinity Café, a restaurant-style dining hall just outside of downtown Tampa that has served free meals to the homeless for more than 10 years. This is where all of the proceeds from BS Beads are going.
“I just sent my first check the other day,” she says. “It was only $50, but hopefully there’s more to come.”
Cindy Davis, program director for Trinity Café, has been showing off her BS bracelet since it arrived in the mail, along with the first check.
“What Kathi’s doing is just incredible,” she says. “I hope she sells a lot of jewelry. She called and asked if she could donate and we need donations to keep food on the table. I tell people about (BS Beads) every day.”
Davis explained that, since opening in 2001, the non-denominational, non-profit Trinity Café has served more than 800,000 meals in a restaurant-style atmosphere to help restore a sense of dignity to those less fortunate, who may spend most of their time on the street. Patrons are welcomed by a host at the door, seated at a table and order from a server off of a menu. Chef Alfred Astl serves up a daily, three-course hot dinner with hearty portions. Most Café workers are volunteers.
“We’re not in the business of turning over tables,” Davis says. “We have conversations with our hungry diners. We give them a break from the street, and on a very frugal budget.”
Currently, the whole program is based out of the dining hall at the Salvation Army at 1603 N. Florida Ave., but Davis says that Trinity Café recently purchased a piece of property that will one day be the program’s new home, once the funds are raised to renovate it.
Making Beads Out Of BS
And that’s where BS Beads comes in. By cutting one political flyer (usually an 8”x10” postcard, or smaller) into strips, Stoy says she can glue, dry and finish about 16 beads. Considering the amount of political fliers that are arriving on a daily basis, that’s obviously a lot of beads. After the beads are made, she just strings them onto jewelry cord.
“It’s stretchy, so one size really does fit all,” she says.
For earrings, she uses wire and other supplies that can be found at any craft store. When making the beads, she tries to make sure that none of the candidates’ names, or any words at all, although a few words can be seen.
“There was one I made that I could see the words ‘non-partisan,’” she says. “I thought, that’s just like me. The fliers I cut up are non-partisan.”
For more information, or to purchase BS Beads jewelry, stop by SoundExchange (14246 Nebraska Ave., between Fletcher Ave. and Bearss Ave.), or call 978-9316 and ask for Kathi. For more info about Trinity Café, visit TrinityCafe.org.