The Buddy Bench Project

Learn how Sammie Vance, an 8-year-old girl from Fort Wayne, Indiana made the decision to take a stance against loneliness to help students create friendships. Read the story in her own words here:

A Buddy Bench is a bench that someone can go sit on if they are lonely or want to meet a new friend. If someone sees them sitting on the bench they know to go over and ask them to play. I first heard about the Buddy Bench at a camp this past summer. Shortly after leaving I went to my mom the next day and said that my school - Haley Elementary needs a Buddy Bench. I didn’t want anyone to be lonely. She said I should make an appointment with the principle. My mom also found a company that takes recycled plastic caps and lids and melts them into benches! 400 lbs or about 10 (55 gal drums) are needed for 1 (6ft bench) with a back.

I made a comic to explain the Buddy Bench concept and met with the school principal before school began for the year. He said it was an awesome idea. I wanted to get two Buddy Benches (one for each playground). He said he thought we might only be able to get enough for one in a year worth of collecting.
Mom got a big blue drum, decorated it for our Buddy Bench cap collection and we started getting the word out!

I talked to the students, PTA, local baseball team and pharmacies. One of my first stops was BIGGBY®. They said they would help collect caps and that it was a great idea! Every week for about 8 weeks I would go in, mom would buy me my favorite drink (strawberry shortcake) and I would pick up a bag of caps that they had collected!! BIGGBY® COFFEE shop owner Mr. Yul was so kind and loved the Buddy Bench idea. All the workers were excited to hear the progress when I would come in. BIGGBY®donated some funds toward the cost of the bench as well which helped make my dream a reality.

In two short months, we collected enough caps for not one but three Buddy Benches! Over 1,200 pounds of recycled plastic caps and lids collected by the community and beyond. We have also received a plastic cap from all 50 states! The support from everyone was awesome and I loved meeting so many nice people. The Buddy Benches are now on the school playground being used to prevent loneliness and make friendships. We are now helping other schools get started on getting their own buddy benches.

- Sammie Vance, The Buddy Bench Project