CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) - Champaign West Rotary donated 8 benches to Champaign Unit 4 Schools on Tuesday.

A total of 1800 pounds of plastic bottle caps and lids were collected to provide nine Buddy Benches.

"Lots of other schools have them. They're not just for buddies, which most people think it is. It also helps recycle," said third-grade student ar Brooker T. Washington, Zoe Litchford.

The Buddy Bench concept is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. Dedicated to helping all students feel included on the playground or during recess activities, the Buddy Bench program promotes better mental and emotional health for youth. 

"Some people can't verbally make friends because they're shy and so they can sit on the bench and somebody will come and be like 'hey! do you wanna play?'" said third-grade student, Julia Sohn.

The president of Champaign West Rotary, Cathy Rector, says the cost of the benches was largely funded by a Rotary 6490 District Grant with Champaign West Rotary Charities covering the remaining expenses.

"This has been such a great project. We're going to take on this project for the next 2 years so we can hopefully put them in every school," said Rector.

Some additional schools that received buddy benches:

  • Robeson           
  • Booker T. Washington       
  • Stratton           
  • Garden Hills           
  • Bottenfield           
  • Kenwood    

Anyone who would like more information is asked to contact Cathy Rector at Champaign West Rotary or email her at