Keep Port St. Lucie Beautiful (KPSLB) officially kicked off the second phase of its Buddy Bench project on America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) with special Ribbon Ceremonies at each of the four schools receiving their Buddy Benches. The Buddy Bench is part of a nationwide movement to give children a place to sit with a buddy when they are feeling alone or bullied.

Somerset Academy, Southport Middle School, Sunlight Christian Academy and Village Green Environmental Studies Schools in Port St. Lucie, Florida, all started collecting caps in spring 2018 and throughout the summer to attain their 200-pound per bench goals. Once collected, KPSLB sends the caps to Green Tree Plastics, based in Evansville, Indiana, which has created a program designed to fabricate the benches to help educate students about recycling.

The four schools collected a total of 807.3 pounds of caps! KPSLB will then work with the five schools who have signed up to participate for 2019-2020: St. Lucie West K-8, Rivers Edge Elementary, Savanna Ridge, PACE Center for Girls, and Northport K-8.

“This Buddy Bench project is a perfect fit with Keep Port St. Lucie Beautiful’s goal to expand awareness for litter prevention and recycling,” said Georgette Beck, Keep Port St. Lucie Beautiful Coordinator. “It also allows us to work on the City’s strategic goals to partner with our local schools and to keep Port St. Lucie safe, clean, and beautiful.”

The program began in 2018 when KPSLB received a $500 Waste-in-Place Grant from state affiliate Keep Florida Beautiful to get the project off the ground. KPSLB partnered with several City departments (Communications, Neighborhood Services, Police and Utility Systems), Waste Pro and the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County, whose members have become ambassadors for the project.

The City encourages residents and community members to collect plastic bottle caps – which typically cannot be recycled locally – and help KPSLB to re-use and transform them into community “buddy benches.”