Olivia and Maya

Olivia Crosby (left) and Maya Khaskhely present a check to support art programs in the MUSC Child Life Atrium after selling stress balls at Cario Middle School.

Middle-school students make, sell stress balls to help MUSC Children’s Hospital patients

As Olivia Crosby sat in a hospital chair with her arm exposed, she couldn’t take her mind off the needle searching for her vein. She needed a distraction, and she suspected other kids did, too.

Olivia, 13, came up with the idea for stress balls in 2014, after a brain tumor diagnosis and one too many bloodwork appointments. Something colorful and squishy would relax her during these hospital visits – and maybe even make those veins easier to find. “It would help me and the nurses,” she said recently.

Olivia took her idea back to Cario Biz Club, an entrepreneurship group at Cario Middle School in Mount Pleasant, and pitched it with her friend and classmate, Maya Khaskhely. With their principal’s blessing, the girls sold a few products: plain stress balls, or heavy rubber balloons filled with jelly beads; stress balls sewed into stuffed animals; and gift baskets with stress ball stuffed animals and candy.

In 10 days, the girls sold out of everything – and made $500 to donate to the MUSC Children’s Hospital.

“Students here at Cario are awesome and always willing to support kids who are sick,” Olivia said.

Olivia took comfort in the little things that helped her forget she was in the treatment for craniopharyngioma, a benign brain tumor. She looked forward to visits from the Happy Wheels cart, loaded down with books and toys, and enjoyed painting and beading in the Child Life Atrium.

She and Maya designated that their donation support art programs in the atrium. They credit their classmates at Cario Middle School for making their 10-day sale a success and springboard for future business ventures.  “With kids,” Olivia said, “when they see something that needs help, they go for it.”

Headline Keywords:

kids helping kids