Ball is the dealer principal at three West Virginia Toyota shops. He runs Ball Toyota of Charleston and Advantage Toyota in Barboursville with his brother, and L&S Toyota of Beckley by himself. He considers giving back to the state a critical part of his duties. COVID-19 meant schools were out or interrupted in West Virginia, limiting the potential impact of a direct donation to kids. But Ball had an idea.
The result was a $216,000 donation from his dealerships to create a partnership with area nonprofits Handle With Care and the United Way.
Handle With Care works like this: If a law enforcement officer encounters a child during a call, they notify the child’s school before the next school day begins. The school implements trauma-sensitive curricula to help the child get through a potentially difficult time.
Ball’s donation created Handle With Care pantries, which provide food and supplies to affected children. His donation to the United Way will help them administer the pantries, getting supplies to children quickly and without red tape.
“Every county has a Handle With Care area coordinator,” Ball says. “That coordinator can call a local United Way, request the money for that kid and it gets taken to them the next day.”
Shawn Ball grew up in West Virginia, so his idea to help create the Handle With Care pantries hits close to home.
Ball donated $1,000 for every high school in the state, and doubled that donation for each school within his dealerships’ sales areas. Then, with the help of the Toyota Dealer Match program, he donated $60,000 to the United Way.
“I wanted to help make sure kids could tell someone they’re having a problem at home and be taken care of,”
Ball says. “The good part is that with the pandemic, law enforcement still delivers supplies to their homes if kids aren’t in school.”
Aside from a donation, Ball set out on a mission to raise awareness about Handle With Care. Now, he says, Handle With Care is taught at the West Virginia Police Academy.
“That was the biggest accomplishment for me,” Ball says. “The West Virginia State Police is an awesome organization, and they’re backers of Handle With Care. But a lot of their officers didn’t know about the program and didn’t use it. So, I asked for this one favor. And now it will be taught at the academy as a required class.”
The most remarkable thing for Ball was the buy-in he got every step of the way.
“In the four months it took to do this, it was 100 percent supported by law enforcement,” he says. “Usually you can find a naysayer in every group. But not here. Everyone understood the importance of Handle With Care in helping kids in tough situations.”