How One Nine-Year-Old Dares to Make a Difference

Update from the Buddy Bench: A Welcome Site for Lonely Kids

Recently we heard from Heidi Vance, Norwex Movement member and proud mom of Sammie, the little girl with a huge heart for others. Sammie collects plastic bottle caps and lids which are recycled into Buddy Benches and sent to schools throughout her home state of Indiana. By sitting on a Buddy Bench, kids who may be feeling lonely or left out during recess can signal that they would like a friend to play with.

Sammie was just eight years old when her mom first reached out to us. Now she’s nine, and Sammie has amassed quite a following—along with some heartwarming updates from her mom:

Buddy Bench

These benches are made completely out of recycled bottle caps.

Posted by We Need This on Friday, May 25, 2018

  • The benches on the playground at Sammie’s school are being used daily. A child told his teacher that the best part about his year was that at the beginning he was shy and didn’t have many friends, but then he was able to use the Buddy Bench and now has lots of friends!
  • Sammie has received caps from all 50 states and has helped quite a few other schools get started with extra caps that keep pouring in.
  • Sammie has been contacted by people all over the world wanting to send caps or start up a similar program in their community.
  • Even a group in India had a day inspired by Sammie. They picked up bottle caps and are finding a way to make them into benches.
  • The Mayor came to see the benches at Sammie’s school and gave her a Certificate of Excellence!
  • Sammie was selected by French food services and facilities management company Sodexo as part of its Performance Zone campaign. A poster featuring her and a Buddy Bench will go into 750 middle schools around the country with information about how to start a similar program. In addition, Sammie will receive $500 from Sodexo to donate to a cause of her choice. (Sammie chose to help two more Indiana schools secure Buddy Benches.)
  • She was also asked to help with an anti-bullying campaign in Atlanta, GA, where one of her videos will be featured.
  • A few videos, like this one, of Sammie’s project went viral with over 30 million combined views. Her story has been covered by USA Today, Martha Stewart, Upworthy, Now This, 60 sec Doc, ATTN and several others.
  • In May Sammie and Heidi appeared on the Today Show during Kathie Lee’s Everybody has a Story segment. Kathie Lee even wrote her a song!
  • On the show, Walgreens announced that all 150 Walgreens stores in Indiana would save their stock caps for her all summer. They estimate having around 15,000 pounds of caps—enough for 75 Buddy Benches—to be distributed throughout Indiana!

Says Heidi, “Now 75 Indiana schools will be getting a Buddy Bench free of charge thanks to Walgreens! On September 15, Walgreen’s brought the caps down to Green Tree Plastics, the place that makes the benches from the recycled caps and lids. When Sammie collected for her benches, she needed 400 pounds of plastic caps for one six-foot bench. But recently, Green Tree changed the requirement to only be 200 pounds so that schools and groups can reach their goal faster! Same great bench but Green Tree is matching the 200 pounds!”

Sammie’s words to live by:

  • “You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference—kids can too!”
  • “Be kind”
  • “Every plastic cap counts!”
comment_2Want to help Sammie make a difference? Check out Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project on Facebook and request to join the group. Or, to donate to this cause, click on Sammie’s go fund me page. And please share your thoughts about this program in the comments below!

Resources:

Did you know plastic bottle caps could help fight loneliness?

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