Pay it Forward Paragould volunteers completed the first of many buddy benches for local schools on Sunday.
The project started in September when Dustin Rumsey, Pay it Forward Paragould founder, posted the idea on Facebook.
People responded on Facebook saying the project would be great for the community and many stepped up to make it happen.
Lowe's in Paragould recently donated lumber and paint for the next 2 buddy benches.
Volunteers made the first bench in memory of Ross Curtner who lost his life in an accident at Crowley’s Ridge Raceway when a car went off the track hitting the Brookland student.
The bench is orange and baseball-themed to remember some of Curtner’s favorite things.
Rumsey presented the bench to Curtner’s family this month and the bench will be placed at one of the Brookland schools.
The buddy bench is meant to help kids feel included, according to Rumsey.
If a kid is lonely or being left out he or she can sit on the bench, showing they want someone to talk with.
“It's so simple. It is basically just a bench with the name Buddy Bench written on it, but it changes the whole concept of sitting down on a bench.” Rumsey said. “You are now saying ‘Hey, come play with me, please.’”
Schools all throughout Greene County have asked for a buddy bench for campus.
Rumsey said this project can help teach kids be kind to one another and include everyone in activities.
“I think if you want to bring about generational change you have to start young. All our projects are pretty much kid-centered. We're not all rich, we're not all poor but we all have been kids. We have been picked on and felt alone sometime,” Rumsey said. “So this is something to bring about change, where people may think it is cool to be kind to each other.”
Rumsey told Region 8 News that other schools in several different counties contacted him about the program and want to start it in their area.