Shaggy's restaurants are helping Gulfport Elementary School student Marissa Wingerter achieve her dream of giving kids an easier way to make friends.
Marissa's idea was to have a designated sitting spot -- a Buddy Bench -- for students without a playmate that day. It's a way for classmates who have pledged to invite them to play to recognize them.
Marissa, a fourth-grader, was able to get a bench donated to Bayou View Elementary. Shaggy's owners discovered her project on the fundraiser site GoFundMe.com.
Shaggy's staff built and donated benches for the other six Gulfport elementary schools. The Shaggy's crew put a base coat of paint on the benches and will let the students decorate them as they like.
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"It's a noble, unselfish act for the students to come together to make sure everyone has a friend and the support of all," Shaggy's founder Ron Ladner said.
The company will open Shaggy's Gulfport Beach restaurant in the spring, and will have its own version of Marissa's Buddy Bench idea for guests. The company also will donate a bench to Hiller Park, where Shaggy's raised money for a new playground.