By Libby Hopkins
Most 16-year-olds are more concerned with their crush or getting their school work done than issues like homelessness, but Zachary Bonner of Valrico isn’t a typical 16-year-old. His concerns about homeless youths started when he was six-years-old back in 2005 when Hurricane Charley hit Southwest Florida.
“I started collecting food, water and other basic supplies for the victims of the storm,” Bonner said. “I knew I had to be involved in helping those people, especially the kids. After that, I officially started the Little Red Wagon Foundation, which eventually evolved into what it is today.”
The Little Red Wagon Foundation is a non-profit organization designed to help underprivileged kids with a focus on homeless youth. Bonner believes everyone has the capability to be the change they want to see in the world it they just put forth the effort. “The goal of the Little Red Wagon Foundation is to serve underprivileged youth through supporting their basic needs, childhood enrichment and efforts to raise awareness to their plight,” Bonner said. “Over the past nine years, the Little Red Wagon Foundation has hosted and created countless projects to bring awareness to homeless youth.”
One of those projects is the 24-Hour Project. Bonner created it with the goal of bringing awareness to youth homelessness, youth volunteerism and as a way to encourage young people to become leaders in the community. The event was held at the Best Buy in Brandon from Friday, April 11 to Saturday, April 12.
“During the 24-Hour Project, kids simulate being homeless,” Bonner said. “We stay in cardboard boxes that are decorated with a homeless theme.”
They also make backpacks that are distributed to homeless youth in the area.
“It gives youth a chance to become involved in their community while learning about the issues of homelessness and taking action to solve the issue.”
The next project Bonner and his foundation are working on will be held on Friday, November 7 this year called Food for a Million.
“I will attempt to break the world record for the most food collected in a 24-hour period in one location, which will be here in Tampa,” Bonner said.
To learn more about The Little Red Wagon Foundation, visit www.lrwf.org.