Thursday, June 23, 2011

What can you do with Friendship Balls?

*  Get a group together---neighborhood, or youth organization, etc. and donate completed balls to humanitarian outlets, Operation Smile, World Joy, Peace Corps, etc.

*Send two or three (or more) in your Missionary care packages to give to the children of the families they are teaching.

*Make decorative door hangers -- different colors for different holidays.

*  Make several and use for Christmas ornaments, substituting Styrofoam for tennis balls so they don't weigh down the boughs.

*Make colorful baby mobiles, using small Styrofoam balls instead of tennis balls.

*Give to neighbors, friends or family for birthdays or "cheer-up" days.

* Display on decorative platters or clear containers.

*When traveling, give to hostess or special people you meet.

Friendship Balls

I would love to share with you a new craft that I have been very passionate about for the last ten years.

Using a tennis ball, a #16 Tapestry Needle, and plain or multicolored regular yarn, you can create a colorful and unique Friendship Ball.

Friendship Balls usually take 1 - 3 hours to make and are so portable, you can take and work on them anywhere you go.

Where did the name Friendship Balls come from?

I have recently retired from teaching 6th grade.  Ten years ago, I wanted to somehow get my students to think more compassionately about others and be less selfish.  I wanted to do something that was totally unique, easy to do, inexpensive to fund, had a great "WOW" effect, and had a purpose.  The result:  Friendship Balls.

My Danish Grandmother made similar balls using string balls and yarn from old sweaters.  I took that idea and with a bit of a twist, created the Friendship Balls.

Friendship Balls go Worldwide

We collected tennis balls from recreation centers and private tennis clubs.  Yarn of all colors was donated by the students.  I purchased the tapestry needles from local craft stores.

The students worked on the Balls for three to four months during our Teacher-Read-Aloud time, recesses and occasionally taking them home and finishing them over night or over the weekend.  Each ball takes 1 - 3 hours to finish.  Most of the students completed 10 to 20 to 30 balls.  Each one unique in color and design.

When we had completed 150 - 300 balls, I would contact a service/humanitarian agency ( or at times, they would contact me) and the boxes of balls would be sent to a third-world country, or some other needy area,  for kids to play with  -- hence the name Friendship Balls.

Friendship Balls Bring Joy to Others

Most of the remote areas that these Friendship Balls went to, the children only had rocks and sticks to play with.  Several stories came back with similar accounts stating that the first day the child would just hold the Friendship Ball, not believing that they didn't have to share and that the ball was actually their own.  The second day they would look at each others' Ball, carefully examining the colors.  By the third day, each child knew which ball belonged to which child.  Then the fun would begin.  Games of all sorts would be played throughout the day.  The parents of the children seemed to be as grateful for them as the children themselves.

One story from Iraq was particularly touching.  Because there were so many children who were casualties of war, a box of Friendship Balls was given to an American soldier who was serving in the hospital in Bagdad.  After treating a child, he would reach into his coat pocket and hand that child a colorful Friendship Ball.  Each smile that the soldier received, made him hope that these children would grow up thinking favorably about Americans.

One year Friendship Balls were given to a deaf school in Haiti.  Because of the children's disability they were  outcasts in their own area.  The Balls were received with great gladness.

World Joy, Operation Smile and similar charity organizations also reported joyful responses to the Friendship Balls.

In some countries, the Friendship Balls were used as learning incentives in the schools.

The Friendship balls that we sent the past ten years have gone to several countries in Africa, Brazil, Chili, countries in Central America, Haiti, Mexico,  Afghanistan, India, Russia, and Iraq.


Another purpose for these Friendship Balls came about when I started teaching the women of my neighborhood how to stitch these colorful balls.  Missionary mothers sent 2-3 Friendship Balls in the care packages to their missionaries.  The response was very positive.  Missionaries would give a Friendship Ball to the kids of the families they were teaching.
Happy kids = Delightful Parents = Ecstatic Missionaries!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friendship Balls Around the World

Children living in Kenya loved these Friendship Balls

Girls from an Iraqi school show off Friendship Balls

Children in Mexico play with the Friendship Balls

This boy is awaiting surgery with "Operation Smile" in India

A classroom in Afghanistan were pleased with the Friendship Balls

These children in Ghana are receiving Friendship Balls and supplies from World Joy Organization