WOOD RIVER | Gary Ballard offers two true-story children’s books for sale in hopes of earning money for mission work.
Ballard and the Illinois Volunteers are a small group that helps others whenever possible. They usually go to places hit by tropical storms and hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina.
“We went to Katrina six times and put on roofs and remodeled a house, which was quite a project,” Ballard says.
They have also helped with hurricanes Ike and Sandy as well as the Oklahoma tornado through Operation Blessing.
“We usually like to go together as a small group, but sometimes we’ll go with a larger group like Operation Blessing, especially if they need extra hands,” Ballard says.
Operation Blessing offers international help when necessary, typically bringing in a ministry team first to assess the damage and then bringing in “chainsaw groups,” also known as disaster relief.
To help fund these trips that do so much good for others, Ballard has written two short books based on his travels. He enjoys writing, but even more so, he enjoys helping others.
“I take the money I make from the books and put it right back into mission work, though I always lose money,” Ballard says, laughing. “The books turn out to be easy to do, but the advertising never works out. I just did them because I thought it would be interesting to write.”
Typically, his cost runs roughly $5 to publish the book and $5 for advertising. Because he sells his books for $10 apiece, he rarely makes back any of the money he puts into them. Every penny goes into the mission fund.
The first book, “Big Red the Quarter Ton Truck,” was written about an incident with his truck. While he was visiting someone in Roxana, he left his truck running and came out to see it was gone. It had gone into reverse and went down the street, across Central Avenue, squeaking between a house and another vehicle.
“The Little File” is also a true story. Ballard was leaving on a 308-mile road trip and pulled his trailer out of the back yard. Because he couldn’t get the hitch into the receiver, he used a small metal file to shave a little off so it would work, not realizing he had left the file on the trailer’s frame. When he unloaded the Suburban, he realized he had left it sitting there for the whole trip.
“I rely mostly on word of mouth for people to buy my books,” Ballard says. “I tell them to send me a check or money and mail it to them. I didn’t do it to make a lot of money because I knew that wouldn’t happen.”
For information on the books or his mission work, call (618) 623-2668 or (618) 251-5065.