Two groups of volunteers recently spent several weeks collecting all kinds of beads, baubles and bangles to make Mother’s Day happier for some Conway children.

Ladies from New Life Church and from Antioch Baptist Church, both in Conway, put out the word to their friends, neighbors, relatives and fellow church members that they were accepting donations of jewelry. With all women in the vicinity on high alert to clean out their jewelry boxes, the organizers of the charitable effort made plans to present school children with a shopping day. On Friday, kids at four Title 1 schools in Conway were given a chance to pick out a surprise for their moms.

Sue Hunter, a member of New Life Church, said, "They spread it out, have the kids come through in groups and let them pick out something. I think it’s wonderful. (The children are) so proud of themselves for getting their mother a gift."

She added the organizers "go through, make sure it’s working and clean. They may buy some at the $1 jewelry store if they don’t get enough (donations). I just think it’s neat. It’s a wonderful idea."

Lara Norris was one of the organizers of New Life’s Mother’s Day Jewelry Outreach. This is the second year the church has held the event.

"It’s been great," she said. "It’s precious. They get all excited and they come in and they know what Mom wears, whether it’s necklaces or bracelets or earrings, or a certain color like green or purple."

Working with Norris were Tracy Martin, Susan Lockard and Olive Yant.

Angela Rice, Toya Aultman and Melanie Malone spearheaded Antioch Baptist’s first attempt at a jewelry outreach. Rice said she heard about New Life’s program and decided to run with the idea.

"I asked these ladies if they would help me," she said. "I met with Tracy Martin and she told me how she had the idea and how it evolved."

As the three ladies sorted through boxes, tubs and bags of necklaces, bracelets and more, she added, "The kids love it. That’s why I was excited to get involved."

Rice teaches first grade at Pine Forest Elementary School in Maumelle, and volunteers presented a similar jewelry shopping opportunity to children at her school, she said.

"We’re going in and giving every child an opportunity to give something special to their mom."

(Rachel Parker Dickerson may be reached by phone at 501-505-1236 or by email at