Soldier's Parents Ship Soccer Balls to Iraq

Soldier's Parents Ship Soccer Balls to Iraq

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Jed Boal ReportingSoccer is the world's game. A couple in South Jordan is working with their son in Iraq to forge new friendships through this sport. They believe they can have an enduring impact on Iraqi's lives.

Ray and MaryJo Bills' garage resembles a stadium storage room these days, with 80 soccer balls and dozens of soccer shirts boxed up ready to ship off to Iraq.

The Bills fill out the boxes with toiletries and other wartime luxuries and ship them to their son, Major Tom Bills.

Ray Bills/Soldier's Father: "If there's anything he really enjoys, it's to get those kids to smile and laugh with him."

Major Bills deployed to Iraq in June as a leader of a military transition training team. He also took over an informal humanitarian project called Operation Soccer Ball, and told his parents in South Jordan.

MaryJo Bills/Soldier's Mother: "When they see us, the kids all want to know where the soccer balls are. So, I wondered if we could start sending a few soccer balls."

The Bills worked out a discount deal with Sports Authority. So far, they've sent 300 balls. More have come from Tennessee and Rhode Island for a total of one thousand soccer balls for the children.

For a nerve-wracked soldier's mom, it helps ease the stress.

MaryJo Bills/Soldier's Mother: "We're trying to show the kids there's a better life. We don't want to be bad for them. We want to be good for them."

Another soldiers gives teddy bears, and yet another gives school supplies.

Soccer balls are very simple gifts. Major Tom Bills and his parents here in Utah have discovered that there's a lot of lasting value in those simple gifts.

Ray Bills/Soldier's Father: "It's joyful to see kids be kids, and he says they love soccer."

Ray Bills served 26 years in the military, including a tour in Vietnam.

Ray Bills/Soldier's Father: "If we can leave a legacy of peace in Iraq, it's a great thing to do."

One ball at a time.

You can donate to the Operation Soccer Ball account at any America First Credit Union.

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast