Polywood’s Sustainable Buddy Bench brings one young woman’s inclusive vision to wider market

Teen entrepreneur Sammie Vance dreamt of getting her Buddy Benches out to schools and community groups nationwide; now a socially-conscious furniture brand is helping.

In 2017 a shy Fort Wayne, Indiana third grader named Sammie Vance got inspired to bring an eco-friendly “Buddy Bench” to her school so lonely kids had a place to sit and let others know they needed a friend. Her program captured the hearts and minds of people around the world (even earning her a feature with TIME for Kids last month) and she’s since donated over 200 benches to various schools and parks.

Now POLYWOOD, the Indiana brand that pioneered outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic, is partnering with the accomplished young entrepreneur to help scale up her operations and get more Buddy Benches out to the schools and outdoor spaces that could benefit from them.

“Sammie is such an inspiration to me, and to everyone at POLYWOOD,” said Jenni Owens, VP of Business Development at POLYWOOD. “She’s a young female entrepreneur who cares deeply about sustainability and providing safe places for youth to go. Her dedication to the community is incredible, and we hope every school signs up to receive its own Buddy Bench.”

Here’s how the program works:

1. Schools and community groups sign up to join POLYWOOD’s school recycling program on the POLYWOOD Buddy Bench page.

2. They’ll receive a kit with a copy of Sammie’s book, Inspire the World: A Kid’s Journey to Making a Difference, a poster on the recycling program, and fun Sammie stickers.

3. Once the school or group collects 1,000 pieces of #2 HDPE plastic, such as milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles, they’ll take it to their local recycling center, and send a photo or video of their haul. POLYWOOD will then share a code to purchase a heavily discounted Buddy Bench in their choice of size and color, starting at $299 for the 48” Buddy Bench (normally $689+).

When asked about why this new alliance is so special to her, Sammie explained:

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“I am so excited to partner with POLYWOOD because it combines what is important to me: Buddy Benches, recycling, and spreading kindness! My hope is by teaming up with POLYWOOD that we will get Buddy Benches into schools everywhere, helping to create friendships for years to come.”

To celebrate the partnership, POLYWOOD and Sammie will be giving away one Buddy Bench to a school on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, for Giving Tuesday. For a chance to win, schools must sign up for Sammie’s “Give Smiles” campaign for Giving Tuesday on her website. One school that signs up before November 28, 2023, will be chosen randomly to receive a Buddy Bench.


For 33 years, POLYWOOD has been transforming outdoor living spaces with durable, sustainable, and timeless furniture designs. All genuine POLYWOOD® products are made in the USA from recycled and reusable plastics and produced in 99% waste-free facilities in Syracuse, Indiana, and Roxboro, North Carolina.

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