Back in the summer of 2019, our Kiwanis Club approved the “A Bench for Caps Program”. Also, commonly known as “Buddy Bench”. The ultimate purpose of a Buddy Bench is to help reduce social isolation. If a child is having a difficult day, they sit on the bench. This is a signal to others that they need a “buddy”.
Our club’s initial goal was to present one bench to one school each year. We wanted every elementary school in Loudon County to eventually have a Buddy Bench. That goal was accomplished in December of 2021. The program continues expanding; branching out into new counties and organizations. Currently we are working this program in Anderson, Blount, Loudon and Monroe counties. We hope to expand to Roane County.
Our member, Kevin Meyer, is the program’s Project Leader. He presented the idea to our club and is responsible for its success. Thank you Kevin. You are an inspiration and an incredible Kiwanian.
The bottlecaps are received from numerous sources, including community, parents, family, neighbors, churches and civic groups. Sponsor donations received cover the production costs.
It takes 200 pounds of non-recyclable plastic lids and bottle caps to create a bench. Non-recyclable plastic which would have end up in landfills. Kevin collects, sorts, weighs and delivers the plastic to Greentree Plastics located in Evansville, Indiana. The company converts the plastic via an extrusion process into a bench. Kevin waits patiently as the bench is created. He drives back to Tellico Village with the finished Buddy Bench. The final steps include, scheduling the Buddy Bench presentation to the recipient and the bench delivery courtesy of Kevin.
This extensive process has taken place 20 times over the course of 3 years. That equals 4,000 pounds of plastic lids and bottle caps kept out of landfills. 4,000 pounds of plastic turned into beautiful Buddy Benches.