Damage to the “Buddy Bench” at North Elementary at the end of last school year will have a happy ending, thanks to donors.
North’s Buddy Bench was vandalized twice, once right after it was installed and again after that. The bench, which helps unite shy or new students with new friends on the playground, was removed for safety reasons at the end of school last year.
The Buddy Bench project began with Roundtown Elementary in York, Pennsylvania. An elementary student who thought he and his family would have to move overseas was worried about finding new friends. The student saw a picture of a special bench on a playground for children without playmates. Though his family didn’t move, the bench idea was picked up by school administrators, and Roundtown got its own bench.
The idea is that a child without a playmate sits at the bench, and other children who see a child on that bench must go up and invite him or her to play. The “rule” is the child must play with those issuing the invitation.
North’s Buddy Bench was donated by volunteers who found and repurposed an old bench. After it was damaged and removed, school administrators sought donations to replace the bench. Several families and community businesses chipped in enough money to purchase two new benches, and another company donated a bench. All three benches are extra sturdy and chained down to prevent theft.
Now North, South and East elementaries all have buddy benches, which were installed this week.
“The kids were already out there this morning using it, seeing what it was about,” said North Elementary Principal Julie Willoughby. “We are very appreciative, very thankful for all the donors.”
Donors include the Dorsey Family, the Lawson Family, Janet Eubanks, First Christian Church, Custom Sportswear, Peoples Savings Bank and Kendra McClung, Willoughby said. Poly Concepts of St. Henry donated the bench that sits at East Elementary. Overall, the total estimated donation amount is $3,151 for all three benches, Willoughby said.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.