Victoria Barr, of Winslow Township, has been making candles at the Atlantic County ARC in Egg Harbor Township since 2003.
"This is the kind of work I want," she said.
She and other clients have been busy for the past month making specialty gel candles for Valentine's Day. Sales of the candles help support the candle-making project, and earn a little extra money for the clients.
The new holiday candles include red hearts, latte in a red or pink mug and champagne glasses. Candles come both scented and unscented.
"Some people don't want a scent, or they have asthma or allergies," said client Patricia Mena of Mays Landing
Career Exploration Coach Diane Kalin said the food scents are the most popular, especially strawberries and peaches.
"It makes you hungry," Mena added.
The ARC has been making candles for a decade. Kalin said it started as a project for any client interested, but is now an official part of the Supported Employment and Career Exploration programs. Candles are made four days per week, with groups of about six clients working at a time.
The Arc AnGels, as the candles are called, come in traditional formats such as jelly jars, seasonal varieties and special orders. The R.C.H. Thrift Shop in Galloway Township brought in glassware, and the group turned them into candles to be sold at the store.
Rhonda Heuser, owner of R.C.H. Thrift Shop, said Kalin came in one day and told her about the candles and how she thought they might be a good fit for the store.
Heuser said she investigated, was impressed with the quality of the work, and offered to given them mis-matched glassware she had to make candles.
"Diane said usually they pay for glassware, but I had pieces here they could use," she said. "They are wonderful candles and are selling well."
Among the group's specialties are tea cups filled with tea-scented candles and a lemon slice. There are green beer and Irish coffee candles for St. Patrick's Day and decorative drink candles for any celebration. Most run between $2 and $10. The most expensive item are realistic looking fruit tarts for $12.
"We bought molds and learned how to make our own fruit after the ones we were buying kept coming in broken," Kalin said.
A display of the candles is on the Atlantic County ARC Web page. They are sold at the ARC Thrift Stores at 6409 Ventnor Ave. in Ventnor, and the Tilton Shopping Center in Northfield, at the ARC headquarters on Delilah Road in Egg Harbor Township, and at the R.C.H. Thrift Shop at 714 White Horse Pike (Route 30) in Galloway Township. All proceeds benefit the program and the workers.
Contact Diane D'Amico: