If you’ve been to an EDM festival like Electric Daisy Carnival or Spring Awakening, you’ve probably seen people trading kandi (the pony bead bracelets). You don’t make kandi for yourself; you make it to give to others. EDM music-lover Nancy Reyes took that belief and turned it into PLUR for Kidz, an organization that has made it their mission to collect kandi for children in hospitals.
The 36-year-old Inglewood, California, resident and mother of two spent the ages of 9 to 19 in and out of children’s hospitals, and she personally knows the power of kandi. Having had both liver and kidney transplants, Nancy’s cheeks would swell up because of her medication, causing persistent bullying by her peers. In those tough times, she recalls feeling joy when receiving gifts from strangers; she also witnessed children who weren’t so lucky.
“I remember there were kids in the hospital that never had a holiday—kids whose parents would never even show up to visit them. So, that’s why I wanted to do my first kandi drop-off during Christmas,” she says. When Nancy herself was alone, it was Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, and Paul Oakenfold’s trance that got her through her difficulties. “I’d be lying in the hospital bed, and every time I’d listen to their stuff, it’d help me release emotions that I didn’t know how to release,” she says. “I’d listen to it, start crying, and five minutes later I’d feel so much better. You wouldn’t think music would actually change a person, but it did.”
Now, her organization called PLUR for Kidz is collecting kandi for other kids facing the same grave challenges Nancy did. She came up with the idea a month prior to Nocturnal Wonderland. It was at the festival’s Sunken Garden stage, among the blaring beats of hardstyle, where festival-goers gathered to be among the first to donate to PLUR for Kidz.
What were originally craft store beads packaged up in containers were turned into carefully crafted bracelets that will be making their way to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
A devoted kandi-maker and Nancy’s right-hand woman at PLUR for Kidz, Kristyn Keltner, 25-year-old Lake Forest, California, resident runs Kristyns Kandi, a shop selling custom-made and hard-to-create pieces, was the go-to person collecting the donations. Like Nancy, she too has spent ample time in and out of hospitals. When she heard about PLUR for Kidz, she knew she wanted in. “[Nancy and I] actually really connect to these kids and how they’re feeling in the hospital alone,” says Kristyn. “Especially for the holidays, a bracelet can make such a difference in a kid’s life.”
It’s the first collection for PLUR for Kidz, which since then has received donation packages from strangers. These people may never come face-to-face with Nancy and Kristyn, but their tokens of love will resonate just the same with the children who receive them. People like these ensure that while Nocturnal Wonderland may have been PLUR for Kidz’s first time collecting kandi, it most certainly won’t be the last.
To donate, send your kandi to: PLUR for Kidz, 1780 Oak St., Torrance, CA 90501.