“We have their back. We support them.”

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A unique, one-of-a-kind project is taking place across the Hoosier state. The initiative turns a sport into a way to give back, and group of Wabash Valley students are getting in on the action.

The 5th grade class at Terre Town Elementary School got a lesson in kindness on Wednesday morning. “We’re coloring golf balls for Valentine’s Day,” said 11-year-old Lillian Thome.

Hand crafted with messages of love. This isn’t just any project. Thome’s golf ball, along with 800 others, are headed to a special destination. “The golf balls will actually be transported prior to Valentine’s Day to Camp Atterbury, through the USO Department, for distribution to the troops,” said Heather Graves.

Terry Graves is a veteran and avid golf player. Formerly of Worthington and Bloomfield, Indiana, Terry currently resides in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

In 2008, he came across a newspaper article about a local man in North Carolina who purchased used golf balls, refurbished them and sold them for profit. Terry was inspired to come up with a similar idea, but instead of turning a profit, he wanted to donate them to the military. Being a veteran himself, as well as having family who served, it was a cause that definitely hit close to home.

Terry’s daughter, Heather, still resides in the Indiana area. Though states apart, Heather still continues to work alongside her father by collecting and distributing golf balls. With the help of Wabash Valley communities the initiative continues to grow.

“It is actually registered with the state of Indiana, meaning that it will go into Bicentennial law and will be on the state website,” explained Graves.

The golf balls and equipment are used by service men and women for local golf tournaments and rehabilitation exercises. “This just kind of lets them know that while they are away, and while they are serving, here at home or overseas, that we have their back and we’re supporting them,” said Graves.

The project gives once lost golf balls a second chance. A small gesture that sends a meaningful message. “I just want to say thank you,” said Thome.

Graves is encouraging area businesses to get involved with the drive. More information can be found on the Golf Ball Drive Facebook PageGolf Ball Drive Website, or by contacting howcharmingphotography@yahoo.com.