ArcGNO’s Mardi Gras Recycle Center Open for Business

NEW ORLEANS – Despite the uncertainty of Mardi Gras 2021, the Arc of Greater New Orleans Mardi Gras Recycle Center is open for business as usual.

“We are calling 2021 a DIY Mardi Gras where the saying is, ‘Throw yourself something, mister!’,” said MGRC manager Sherrana McGee-Stemley.

Normally, McGee-Stemley would oversee a large staff and thousands of volunteers sorting and repacking donated throws. The coronavirus, of course, has changed all that. Since Mid-March, the agency has functioned with minimal staff, but the retail store is fully stocked and will maintain its regular Mardi Gras hours.

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“There’s been a lot of discussion about what Carnival will look like next year,” saiad McGee-Stemley. “We know some residents will decorate their homes to resemble floats, and there will be other creative means of showing the Carnival spirit. The way we are approaching the holiday now is that we are here so imaginations can take over. It’s not what we had hoped for, but it’s 2020…what more can you say? We are focused on providing people Mardi Gras throws and decorative items so they can create their own fun and continuing our mission, which is what is ultimately important.”

That mission is to empower people with Down syndrome, autism, or some other intellectual disability or delay (IDD) so that they can reside in the community with a maximum level of independence. ArcGNO does this by providing above minimum wage employment to people with disabilities, and its MCRC is one of three social enterprises that provide jobs. The MGRC recycles Mardi Gras throws year-round, which keeps a full-time staff of nine employed and helps keeps throws out of city drainage and landfills. Since the beginning of 2020, the recycling program has collected more than 130 tons of throws, with almost all of that now sorted and repackaged and available for purchase in the retail store.

The ArcGNO Mardi Gras retail store, located at 925 Labarre Road, is now open:

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         Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

         Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There is also an online store. For more information, call 504-324-1919.

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