FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Sammie Vance, 14, is the founder of Sammie's Buddy Bench Project. The program was born out of Sammie's struggles with loneliness at school and a desire to help others who may be feeling the same way.
A Buddy Bench, Sammie explains, "is a place for when someone is lonely, they can sit on the Buddy Bench and another person can come up to them and ask them to play and they can play together. It's like a signal for people who are more shy, like myself."
When Sammie and her family realized the cost of implementing a Buddy Bench at her school was too high for the school to cover, they had to get creative. They learned of a local company that creates benches out of discarded bottle caps so Sammie got to work quickly organizing the collection of 800 pounds of caps.
"Caps used to not be able to be recycled, so I like to call it a three-in-one where it helps the environment, helping friendships, and also helping bring the community closer together by collecting the caps," Sammie says.
To celebrate her incredible acts of kindness and compassion, Disney surprised Sammie and her family with a holiday trip aboard the Disney Wish, the newest ship from Disney Cruise Line.
"I didn't expect that, like at all," an excited Sammie said when her parents broke the big news.
"I think it's important for people to know that you don't have to do something big to make an impact," Sammy explains of the impact she hopes to have on others. "My project started with one cap, it's the small amounts of kindness that count. No matter their age, anyone can make a difference in the world."
Tune in Sunday, 12/25, to Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade to see Sammie's trip plus heartwarming stories, dazzling celebrity performances, and of course, the Christmas Day Parade! Airing on ABC: 12/25 10am ET, 9am CT, 8am MT, 7am PT. Also on Freeform, Hulu, and Disney+.
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