"The biggest surprise is how many people want to help and how easy it is to help."
Zach Bonner, 8, of Valrico, Florida, helps homeless kids by raising money and supplies for the Little Red Wagon Foundation, Inc. and Stand Up for Kids.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Zach: I started 2 years ago by raising 27 truckloads of food and supplies for the hurricane victims of 2004. Then I decided I wanted to help homeless kids so I started the Little Red Wagon Foundation Inc. So far I have made over 150 backpacks that include supplies such as food and personal hygiene kits. I have also helped several families in Tampa Bay with new bikes, toys, shoes and school supplies. When Katrina hit I raised $650 for the Red Cross and then I collected over $6000 worth of new toys and donated them to the shelters in Baton Rouge.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Zach: Little Red Wagon Foundation Inc. of Valrico, Florida, and Stand Up For Kids, which is nationwide.
What inspired you to get involved?
Zach: I heard on the radio that people needed water after hurricane Charlie, and I asked my Mom if we could give ours, and she said yes. Then asked if I could ask the neighbors, and I did. I worked on it for 4 months. I like doing it now. It is so much fun and I get to meet so many really neat people.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Zach: My mother started having me visit the distribution center, and now I go every week.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Zach: I liked unloading the truck full of stuff that I would bring to the distribution center. Everyone would be so surprised at how much stuff I had collected.
What is/was the hardest part?
Zach: When people doubt my honesty.
What was the biggest surprise?
Zach: The biggest surprise is how many people want to help and how easy it is to help.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Zach: I never knew how many kids are in distressed situations. It is sad. Worse than that, I think most people go around not knowing or pretending not to notice because they think they can't help. If everybody just helped a little bit then nobody would ever need any help because they would always have it.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Zach: Just do it. It is so easy and so much fun. You get to meet all kinds of new people and everyone thinks you are really cool for helping.
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