'Clare Cares' in Dubuque gets big donation for Buddy Benches - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

'Clare Cares' in Dubuque gets big donation for Buddy Benches

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8-year-old Dubuque girl Clare Vosberg-Padget wants to build Buddy Benches at 23 area elementary schools 8-year-old Dubuque girl Clare Vosberg-Padget wants to build Buddy Benches at 23 area elementary schools

A little girl on a mission to end bullying in her community is now one step closer to her dreams.

Clare Vosberg-Padget is an eight-year-old Dubuque girl, whose passion is igniting her whole community.

KWWL first interviewed Clare in January. At that time, she was just formulating her plan to build a buddy bench at every elementary school in Dubuque.

"I see a lot of kids getting bullied," Clare said, explaining why she wants to build the benches. "The purpose of the Buddy Bench is to build friendships and include kids."

A Buddy Bench is where students who feel lonely or bullied can go sit and find support from fellow students.

"You'd go to the Buddy Bench and then someone would come play with you or talk to you," Clare said. "It's building them up instead of tearing people down."

On Friday, the owners of Edwards Cast Stone in Dubuque told Clare the company will donate the stone bases for 23 Buddy Benches. That's one bench for every elementary school, public and private, in Dubuque County and East Dubuque, Ill.

"I was in shock and I actually didn't really speak, which is actually impossible for me," Clare, who is usually pretty talkative, said after the meeting.

The Buddy Benches will have bases made of stone. The back and seat will be made of wood. Edwards Cast Stone is helping Clare reach out to another company right now for a donation of the lumber needed to make the rest of the benches.

Clare, whose mission to spread kindness is called Clare Cares, joined forces this winter with Dubuque non-profit organization Resources Unite, to help make the Buddy Benches a reality.

Resources Unite's founder Josh Jasper was at the meeting with Clare and Edwards Cast Stone and said Clare's efforts are inspiring people throughout the community.

"A number of people have been reaching out to us and saying, 'Hey, how can we...help spread the mission of Clare Cares and bully prevention?'" Jasper said. "What Clare has done an amazing job of is connecting the message with other kids."

Clare has gone to several area elementary schools to talk about Buddy Benches and bullying prevention.

Along with the benches, Clare and Resources Unite want to introduce anti-bullying resources and learning tools into the schools.

"All I really want to say is thank you to the community for helping me," Clare said Friday.

It's an effort she wants to keep growing.

Plans call for all 23 buddy benches to be built and in their place at elementary school playgrounds by the start of next school year. Some may even be up by the end of this school year.

Despite Friday's good news of the donation, Clare said this is only the beginning. Clare Cares and Resources Unite still need more money to purchase the Buddy Bench plaques, which will explain the purpose of the buddy benches.

Information on Clare's continued efforts is HERE on the Clare Cares Facebook page. Information on how people can donate to her continued anti-bullying efforts is HERE on the Resources Unite page.

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