Stress Busters

Mila and Maverick Messinger create Stress Busters out of everyday household objects.

Two Arcadia kids are spending their free time working on a creative project that they hope will make a difference in sick children’s lives across the Valley. 

When not in class at Hopi Elementary, 9-year-old Maverick and 8-year-old Mila Messinger make homemade stress balls and raise money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The siblings started their project, called Stress Busters, back in February. 

“They started super organically with giving some of their stress balls out and then started charging for them once they saw how excited both kids and adults were when they squeezed them,” mother Gabi Messinger said. “It was a bonus to be donating all the money made to PCH.”

Maverick’s love of fidget and squishy toys led to the idea of a squeezable ball. He said he likes to keep his hands busy and enjoys trading the trinkets with friends at school.

“Since there seems to be a lot more stress around us lately, we think everyone can benefit from having a stress ball to squeeze,” Gabi said. “We’ve sold over 80 so far, and many people have donated money in addition to purchasing stress balls.”

Each ball is an original creation, made from a combination of balloons, water beads, rubber bands and friendship bracelet string. Maverick and Mila spread the word at school and with their sports team while their parents shared the news on social media. 

The whole family was on board to donate the money to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which mom and dad suggested. 

“Maverick has been to Phoenix Children’s Hospital a few times, and we’ve seen firsthand how wonderful the facility and staff have been,” Gabi said. “We also have some friends that have been there longer-term, and we realize how lucky we are to have this hospital so close by to help those in need.”

Gabi said that so far, the kids have raised over $1,000, and she and her husband are matching that amount. 

While they think it would be fantastic to raise another $1,000 in donations by the time the year is over, Maverick and Mila are just happy to be helping others and having fun in the process. 

“It feels really good to give back and to help people that need it. We are grateful to be able to do so,” Gabi said, noting that it wouldn’t be possible without local support, including school and sports friends.

“We love the community of Arcadia and feel like our neighbors and friends are our family. We support each other through ups and downs, and it has been really special to see everyone come together during this past year especially.”

The family has set up a fundraising campaign on the Phoenix Children’s Foundation website where people can donate and buy stress balls.