Writer / Matt Keating
Hudson Hendricks, a third-grade student at Maple Glen Elementary School, recently led a successful plastic bottle-cap collection drive to get a Buddy Bench at the school.
“He saw Buddy Benches on other playgrounds but remembered that the school’s kindergarten playground did not have one,” Hudson’s father Ben Hendricks says. “He wanted to make friends when he was in kindergarten, but thought it was intimidating at times. He wanted to make sure the kindergarteners had a Buddy Bench to help other kids make friends. Then Hudson saw a newspaper article about Buddy Benches and asked if we could start collecting.”
The labeled benches provide a way for kids to find others to play with and establish friendships.
“The collection began at home,” Hendricks says. “It spread to neighbors next. Then friends and family got involved. We received caps from South Bend, Chicago and even North Carolina. Once the school heard about it, things escalated quickly. It seemed like everywhere we went, someone was handing us a bag of caps. The parent-teacher organization helped us promote the cap collection and was great through the entire process.”
Hudson had a lot of fun collecting the bottle caps and enjoyed helping other people.
“One of the things he enjoyed was seeing how many different sizes and colors we could find,” Hendricks says. “Hudson loves to help people. This year he won the Everyone’s Friend award in his class.”
Hendricks is the chief marketing and communications officer at Kiwanis International, a nonprofit that focuses on helping kids, so Hudson frequently hears conversations about community service and young leaders.
“Hudson asks his dad a lot of questions and always looks for ways to be involved,” Hendricks says.
The bench should be ready soon.
Hendricks says Hudson keeps busy with other activities.
“Hudson is attending many camps this summer,” Hendricks says. “He played basketball, baseball, and ran cross country through [Westfield Youth Sports]. He also swam for Westfield Aquatics.”
Hudson also finds time for other fun activities.
“Hudson loves playing outside, building forts, playing video games and sports, and watching Marvel movies,” Hendricks says. “He also loves playing with his dog Chewie.”
Hudson already has an idea of what he would like to be when he grows up.
“Hudson wants to be an engineer or a scientist,” Hendricks says. “He says he wants to ‘make cool things and help people.’”
Hendricks and his wife Kristin are very proud of Hudson.
“We try to teach our kids that good things happen in your own life when you think about the needs of others first,” Hendricks says, adding that Hudson hopes other kids start collecting caps for benches at their own schools. “He’s realizing at a young age that helping others feels good. We hope he continues to consider what he can do to help meet the needs of his community as he gets older.”
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