Buddy Benches come to the Lodi, NJ School District
Lodi children can signal for a buddy with a new Buddy Bench system at the elementary schools.
Grace Ann Parisi, elementary school counselor, got the idea from Facebook, which originated with a second-grade boy.
“The boy said a good idea to combat bullying was to have buddy benches on the playground,” said Parisi.
The buddy bench is someplace for a child to sit who feels sad, lonely, needs to talk to someone or needs a buddy during playtime.
“They sit on the bench, and it’s a signal for a friend to come join him,” said Parisi.
Parisi pitched the idea to Kathleen Saunderson, the assistant operations manager at The Home Depot in Lodi.
Parisi said that the response from The Home Depot was this, “Not only are we giving you the benches, we’re putting it to the Home Depot Foundation and doing it big.”
The schools received a $1,500 grant from The Home Depot Foundation for the Buddy Bench project.
Additionally, The Home Depot provided its own volunteers to do the work of placing benches and creating garden beds around them.
The foundation provided stone benches, planters, mulch, flowers, small arborvitae trees as well as railroad ties that were used to wall in garden beds around the benches.
Parisi explained that the mulch provided is rubberized to be soft in case children fall on the playground.
“We made it so that it is visible from every part of the playground,” said Parisi.
The benches and accompanying gardens have been installed at the Washington, Columbus and Roosevelt Elementary schools.
Hilltop and Wilson Elementary schools will have theirs added in August of this year.
Parisi said that The Home Depot has all the items set aside for the August project already.
“We’re so grateful to Home Depot,” said Parisi. “Kids love the idea of the Buddy Bench.”