Middle schoolers encourage new friendships with salvaged materials

Hi Forklift Fans!

As many of you are gearing up for the back-to-school season, we wanted to share a heartwarming story about a group of students from Briggs Chaney Middle School (BCMS) in Silver Spring, Maryland who took direct action to make their school a more welcoming place this year.

Briggs Chaney Middle School students begin construction using lumber and tools from the Forklift.

The school aims to create a learning environment which encourages student engagement and the building of positive relationships. Na’Shea English, a teacher at BCMS, was teaching a kindness and civility unit in one of her classes when her students came up with the idea of building a “buddy bench” – a permanent installment in the school’s playground that would serve as a way for shy students to make friends. The idea, she explained, “is that students sit on the bench outside during recess to engage in conversation.”

Students painting the buddy bench.

Na’Shea originally reached out to the Forklift in search of lumber, sandpaper, paint, tools, and hardware for the project her students wanted to complete. She applied for a Community Building Blocks (CBB) grant to finance the project and was awarded store credit, allowing her to acquire the materials she and her students needed, at no cost.

In late June, the buddy bench was completed, and Na’Shea sent us the following message:

“I wanted to share with you what the kids completed with the grant. They did a wonderful job and I enjoyed building with them. The bench sits outside next to our community garden in the front of the school. Because they have created something from scratch for use of our community, they now have a new sense of pride in their school. Thank you so much for everything.”

Forklift is proud to have been able to support such an inspiring project through our CBB program. Na’Shea estimated that the buddy bench will impact 900 students, faculty, and family members at BCMS. The students at Briggs Chaney not only constructed a welcoming place for students, but they did it with salvaged materials, demonstrating a small but impactful success of our mission to lift up communities through reuse.