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Pizza Factory donates ‘Buddy Bench’ to GEMS

The “Buddy Bench” can be seen behind Pizza Factory president and CEO Mary Jane Riva (pictured) as she speaks to Grangeville Elementary Middle School children.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
The “Buddy Bench” can be seen behind Pizza Factory president and CEO Mary Jane Riva (pictured) as she speaks to Grangeville Elementary Middle School children.



— “What’s the word of the day?” Mary Jane Riva asked about 600 students and teachers at Grangeville Elementary Middle School on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

“Awesome!” they yelled back to her.

“That’s right! And you’re all awesome,” Riva, the president and CEO of Pizza Factory told the crowd.

Riva was in town to help Pizza Factory owners Mike and Beth Sturdevant and manager Heather Wagenmann present a “Buddy Bench” to GEMS. The bench sits on the edge of the playground.

Riva explained to the kids the bench is a place to come and sit when “you want to be acknowledged, when you need a friend or someone to talk to,” she said.

She told the kids they all have a responsibility to pay attention to the bench and see who needs someone to be kind to them.

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Grangeville Elementary Middle School children enthusiastically respond to Pizza Factory CEO Riva's questions.

“Choose your words wisely,” she said. “You don’t have to be best friends to be kind.”

The bench is part of Pizza Factory’s anti-bullying campaign and Riva reminded the kids that with 115 franchises in the western United States, one of them may very well work for Pizza Factory someday.

“And we only hire people who are kind and can get along with their bosses, fellow employees and customers,” she emphasized.

Each child got a bracelet with “awesome” engraved in it to remind them they are awesome and to be kind.

“At Pizza Factory here in Grangeville, if you sign the ‘no-bullying pledge,’ you can come to the store and put your handprint in paint and put it on the wall of the game room,” Wagenmann told the kids. “Then you sign it and it’s there for everyone to see that you are not going to stand for bullying.”

“Life isn’t always perfect, but we have the choice of how we treat other people,” Riva ended. “Let’s be awesome!”



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