One of the most exciting and creative projects from summer of 2021 was the creation of three “Buddy Benches,” a project that was brought forward by Youth Ministry Leader, Bret Johnson. While spearheaded by the children and youth of the community, the idea of “Buddy Benches” came to be embraced and supported by Lakesider's of all ages.
Johnson had seen schools collect plastic bottle caps to be re-purposed and formed into benches where folks are invited to sit and talk with a friend. “Why not Lakeside?” Johnson asked. Fellow youth and children's ministry leaders quickly embraced the idea.
The initial hope was to collect 250 pounds of bottles caps through God Squad, Middle Grade Madness (MGM), and the Underground for one “Buddy Bench.” Lakesiders got behind this project in an amazing way. “Every morning my mailbox was full of bottle caps!” commented Dr. Charles Yoost, Lakeside's director of religious life.
By the middle of August Lakesiders had collected enough bottle caps for three, six-foot benches.
To make this dream a reality, the work didn't stop there. Teens and leaders washed and sorted bottle caps. To raise funds needed for the transformation from bottle caps to benches, youth sold concessions at Orchestra Hall during family movies. Generous Lakeside families also made donations. MGM leaders, John and Bonnie Wilkie, graciously agreed to transport bottle caps to the facility in Indiana and pick up the completed benches in time for the Closing Celebration on Labor Day weekend where the benches were presented to the community.
Each area of youth ministry chose a color for one of the benches. Next summer, Lakesiders will be able to enjoy sitting on a comfortable, blue, green, or yellow bench.
“It is amazing what Lakesiders can do when we all work together. This project is just one example of the transformation that happens when people of goodwill join together in friendship and creativity,” said Dr. Yoost.
A decision will be made soon on the continuation of this project at Lakeside. In the meantime, Lakesiders are invited to continue collecting bottle caps this winter. Any caps that are not used by Lakeside will be donated to another group working on a similar project.