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I remember when I was 8 years old and I learned there was a children’s author who was just 12 (Ally Sheedy). That meant I could be a kid-author, too! Unfortunately, I didn’t make it. But look who did: Sammie Vance!

Sammie Vance is a 12-year-old dynamo who saw both a need and a solution, to not one issue, but a few. She’s the wunderkind behind recycled Buddy Benches, installed in schools, parks, and wherever anyone might need a friend.

You see, to make Buddy Benches, Sammie found a recycling company who could mold them out of plastic bottle caps and tops. When Sammie realized she needed help collecting enough caps, she asked for it. It became not only a school project, but a community one…but it didn’t stop there…

Sammie’s kindness, generosity and innovation has made an impact around the world. Her new book, releasing this Tuesday, is both the story of her journey and an illustrated how-to guide for kids who want to inspire social action in their own schools and communities…and even on the global stage.

Sammie, what’s the most surprising result to come from the Sammie’s Buddy Benches project?

In all honesty, how much my Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project had spread throughout the world, was and still is unexpected. I never expected it to get as big as it is today. Another surprising factor is the fact that I have gotten to meet so many amazing people through my project. I have been inspired by so many people, and I hope I am doing the same to them.

But, another surprise element is the other projects that have sprouted from my main project, Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project. I have started my own podcast and other small projects as well such as Sending Smiles and Cap Art Murals.

Can you tell us a little about those two projects?

I started Sending Smiles during quarantine, seeing that everyone needed a smile. So I would send an encouraging letter to someone everyday in hopes to make them smile. I also included a laminated smile. Sammie Smiles podcast is similar to Sending Smiles. It is basically where I interview people who make me smile, in hopes to make others smile as well.

For The Cap Murals, I helped the parks department lead a class on making art murals out of recycled caps. We created the art and then they were turned into murals with help of recycling and the community. A major help to this local project was when I was on the TV show Operation Awesome and they helped me create multiple Murals.

Wow, “Operation Awesome” sounds like it could be your middle name! You’ve already accomplished so much, so what do you see ahead in your future? Do you have any long-term plans for yourself?

Since I am only 12 I am not sure what I see for my future. Right now I am focusing on school and getting to do some neat things with spreading kindness.  I do know whatever I choose it will involve helping people. I have gotten to have an inside look at a lot of neat professions over the past few years and there are some really neat aspects to lots of jobs.  An astronaut once gave me the call sign “Prez” saying I should run for President someday. Who knows?!

Indeed, who knows?! You have enthusiastic support from your mom, who helped coordinate this interview. With family guidance and love, plus your gusto and determination, the world is your Buddy Bench!

Thanks for the interview, Sammie!

Blog readers! I’ve got a copy of INSPIRE THE WORLD for you! Just leave one comment below to enter. I’ll pick a winner on the book’s release date, August 24th!

Good luck!


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