October 11, 2015

Tennis Balls

Although some charitable activities do not change the world in fundamental ways, they give me great satisfaction because they are easy and inexpensive to do and deliver immediate benefit to people. One recent example is my experience with the dozens of dead tennis balls in our garage.

Our two younger children play a lot of tennis and practice with used tennis balls. However, eventually, the tennis balls cannot be used even for practice because they lose their bounce. In the past, we would have thrown them away.

This time, I did a search for “alternative uses of tennis balls” and found that there are many uses for them, including

  • Their use in rehabilitation for hand and wrist injuries as squeezable objects;
  • Their ability to be cut up and placed at the bottom of chairs in schools and libraries where the chair legs scuff tile floors; and
  • Their ability to be cut up and used in nursing homes and other locations where elderly people use walkers, to enable them to move more smoothly on a tiled or carpeted floor.

I chose the last of these uses, called the local nursing home, and delivered several dozen tennis balls to them. They were extremely grateful. What was astounding is that the tennis clubs in town were unaware of this potential use. I told each of them about the nursing home application and they agreed to consider donating dead tennis balls to the nursing homes.

This illustrates a much bigger principle: there is an alternative use for virtually everything we have before we discard something. The challenge is finding that use, and looking for a recipient who values the item. I am considering either a web site, a space on my blob, or a space on my Facebook or Linkedin profiles to compile applications like this.

In this time when people are trying to be more frugal, and when other people need to find new uses for things they no longer need, there is a great opportunity for someone to be a clearinghouse for this kind of information. I would welcome any readers with ideas for other items that are normally discarded that might have charitable uses.