About the beads we use

The Beads of Courage® Program depends upon a few different types of beads.

Program Beads

Program Beads are commercially manufactured due largely to the sheer quantity involved. These beads are the ones that you may have seen on bead guides that correspond to specific moments of courage displayed during a child’s treatment experience.

Act of Courage Beads

Act of Courage Beads are the artist-made glass beads that are given to acknowledge the courage displayed during treatment defining milestones. This year, we expect to need approximately 100,000 of these handmade beads donated so children can continue to receive one-of-a-kind beads to honor courage displayed during significant treatment milestones. These beads truly bring the arts to our Arts-in-Medicine mission.

Polymer Clay Beads

Polymer Clay Beads are used in many of our programs including our Beads of Courage Program for Siblings, Arts-in-Medicine Workshops and as a Member’s Choice bead in the Beads of Courage Program.

Other Manufactured Beads

Other Manufactured Beads are used in many of our fundraising activities and workshops. We welcome your donation of miscellaneous beads, they all find a perfect home to further the mission of Beads of Courage, Inc.

Given the length of time people have been fascinated with beads (over 43,000 years!), as well as their usefulness for counting, adorning and symbolizing importance, they’re just right for recognizing and recording moments of courage for those coping with serious illness, their families and the clinicians caring for them.

How to Donate Beads

Print and fill out this Bead Donation Form and then mail it to us with the beads you would like to donate.

Mail To:

Beads of Courage, Inc.
Attn: Bead Donations
3755 E 34TH ST, STE 117
TUCSON, AZ, 85713-5307

Important Note: Bead Delivery to Hospitals

None of our member hospitals are set up for direct donation. All beads distributed in our programs are our responsibility related to quality and safety. We need to see every Act of Courage bead before it goes out. We ask that all artist-made beads are returned to us at Beads of Courage.

Special Requirements: Act of Courage Beads

Act of Courage Beads can take almost any form that you would like to make—it’s an opportunity for you to let your imagination go! The 3/32″ mandrel is preferred but other sizes are also usable.

Please have nice ‘puckers’ on the ends of the beads, sharp edges on the bead holes cut fingers and cannot be used. Overly frilly bits sticking out may break off and leave sharp edges on the surface, be sure that raised dots have solid connections (no undercuts) and that surface decorations are robust enough to take some knocking about.

We ask that you refrain from using reduction frit or glasses that give a metallic sheen on the surface due to heavy metal issues with these materials. We can’t send metallic reduction surface beads to the kids.

Anneal your beads properly in a kiln to ensure they don’t crack. Cracked beads have to go in the waste basket.

Please make sure that the bead release is cleaned out. Beads with the release still inside take more time for our volunteer staff to clean and this tremendously slows down the turnaround time to the hospitals.

When you send your beads please fill out the Bead Donation Form, it helps us to expedite sending you a receipt and thank you for your donation.

Polymer Clay Guidelines
for Member’s Choice Beads

Member’s Choice Beads

Printable Polymer Clay Guidelines

Member’s Choice beads are handmade polymer clay beads made by artists, packaged with love, and given to a Beads of Courage member to represent a milestone in their treatment. We use these colorful and fun beads in every Beads of Courage program to recognize the joy of being discharged from the

Guidelines for Polymer Clay Bead Making

  • Condition 1 teaspoon of clay well.
  • Bake beads fully at 260° degrees F (126° C) for 15 minutes. The beads are worn and handled by children and must be sturdy enough to withstand wear and tear.
  • Do not make beads over 1” wide by 1 ½” tall by ½” thick. (2 ½ cm wide by 3 ¾ cm tall by ¾ cm thick)
  • The hole size must be at least 2 mm (¼ cm). The thickness of a round toothpick.
  • Do NOT glaze or clear coat the beads.
  • Make all surfaces smooth. No sharp areas or areas that can break off.
  • Use colorful clay and make fun shapes. Let your imagination go!


Please fill out the Bead Donation Form. If you send beads from multiple donors in one box, have each artist fill out a form separately, or
just include one form for the entire group.

Send all of your donated beads to:

Beads of Courage Headquarters
3755 E 34TH ST, STE 117
TUCSON, AZ, 85713-5307


Member hospitals are not set up to receive donations. All beads in our programs are our responsibility. We need to see every Member’s Choice bead first; then, volunteers package each bead and add a Member’s Choice card.

Thanks for helping make healing happen!

Information kindly provided by Beads of Courage Hall of Fame Artist, Barbara Sosna.