Extraordinary Homeschooler Zach Bonner
In 2008, he walked from Tallahassee, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2009 he walked from Atlanta, Georgia to Washington D.C.
In 2010 he walked from Jacksonville, Florida to Santa Monica, California.
Why? To raise money for homeless children.
Did he succeed? Absolutely.
Zach Bonner, now almost 15, is the youngest person to ever start his own non-profit foundation. Since its inception in 2005, Little Red Wagon Foundation has raised thousands of dollars to help the homeless both in the United States and internationally. The foundation works to distribute backpacks to homeless shelters containing food, personal items, and toys. It also hosts holiday parties, distributes sports equipment, creates “24 hour events” to raise awareness and provide supplies/funds, and has even partnered with such businesses as Build-A-Bear, Chuck E Cheese, and Six Flags to arrange fun opportunities for underprivileged kids.
His works have created quite a buzz in the media. In 2006 he received the “Presidential Call to Service Award” from George W. Bush. His story has been featured on The Early Show, Good Morning America, and CNN. He was also awarded the “National Point of Light” by the governor of Florida for his volunteer work. In 2009 Beliefnet selected him as “The Most Inspiring Person of the Year”.
Recently Zach visited Philadelphia to provide supplies for homeless shelters here and to promote the new movie, Little Red Wagon, that is based on his life story. Last Friday, October 5th, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Zach and ask him about his homeschool experience. He homeschools through the K – 12 Florida Virtual Academy. Following are Zach’s comments:
On Homeschooling: “I have been homeschooling since kindergarten, when we first moved to Florida. My mom looked into schools in the area and thought that homeschooling would be the best option. Homeschooling gives me the flexible schedule I need to be able to put time and energy into the Little Red Wagon Foundation. Sometimes I will do a few days of book work in one day, and then spend the next day speaking to groups. While we walked across the country, homeschooling enabled me to keep up with my classes. Our RV had internet access. Walking across the country was tough. It took us 7 months and I went through 10 pairs of shoes. But getting to see the country, to visit other countries around the world, to speak to groups, has given me an education I could never get just by reading books. A big part of my education has been public speaking. Speaking before groups of people is nerve-racking but exciting because I know it helps build awareness of the homeless problems we face in our country.”
On Trip to Philadelphia: “I haven’t had the opportunity to visit any shelters in Philadelphia, but we have worked to put together 400 backpacks of supplies for children in Philadelphia Homeless shelters. Youth Service Inc. will be distributing the backpacks where they are needed. Homeschoolers in Philly can definitely get involved. I would recommend contacting a specific shelter to determine what the needs are. For homeless shelters, I see the biggest needs being basic needs and “kids’ needs”, which is why we always provide a toy in one of our backpacks.” The backpacks contain the following:
- Sewing Kit
- Pair of socks
- Food pack – Chef boyardee, silverware, candy, chips, nutrigrain bar, slim jim, handi wipes
- Personal hygiene kit – comb, toothbrush, deodorant, razor, shampoo, toothpaste
- First aid kit
Zach’s new movie: Little Red Wagon