KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — At the age of 8, after Hurricane Charlie devastated parts of Florida in 2004, young Zach Bonner took the plight of homeless kids to heart. The youngest person in the U.S. to create a non-profit foundation aimed at helping homeless kids and their families, Zach and his mother and sister began a mission to help bring hope and happiness to those who could see no light at the end of the tunnel.
A new movie entitled “Little Red Wagon” addresses this subject of one child making a difference. This little-film-that-could takes on the cause with courage and resolve. That said, it’s not so much the film I wish to discuss here, but rather the family behind the Little Red Wagon Foundation.
Though the movie, now in limited release, has a made-for-TV-feel, it nonetheless moves and encourages, and perhaps even inspires us to get outside ourselves and realize that it’s only when we do the will of the Lord by caring for others that we find true contentment. “Love the Lord your God … Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
In a recent phone interview with now 15-year-old Zachary Bonner, I felt his concern for others.
BOATWRIGHT: “Zach, what was the motivating factor that got you so involved in helping other kids?”
BONNER: “After hurricane Charlie in Florida, I saw the devastation on TV. I guess the question should be, ‘How can you not help?'”
BOATWRIGHT: “I write for Baptist Press so I know my readers would like to know if you are a Christian.”
BONNER: “I am. And I believe faith is a very important part of the work that we do. There’s a lot of times when it doesn’t look like things are going to work out and then something happens and everything comes together. That’s God.”
BOATWRIGHT: “Has your faith been a part of your determination to help others?”
BOATWRIGHT: “How much of your time is given to these projects? In the film your mom is right by your side most of the time, but I know she has to work. Who helps you?”
BONNER: “My sister, my mom and I, we all pitch in. If it wasn’t for their support, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Right now we’ve been very busy with the release of the movie. It’s meant to bring awareness, so we’re working hard to make sure people see it. Like today, I’ve been going all morning with interviews and will be until about 8 tonight. We have days like this. At other times it’s not so busy. But we all put quite a bit of time into it.”
BOATWRIGHT: “Do you think this is going to be your life’s work?”
BONNER: “I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I get older, but this work will always be a part of my life.”
BOATWRIGHT: “In the movie your sister was jealous over the attention you were getting. Was that just in the movie?”
BONNER: “The film stays pretty close to how we got involved and what we have done, but it does take some dramatic liberties, especially with my sister. Of course, there are rivalries, on both sides, as in every family there are issues that people have to deal with. But we’re close and what’s important is that we remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. And we do.”
It has saddened me over the past several months of political hurrahs seeing just how divided we Americans have become. What’s more, it’s easy to take on a cynical attitude about the fate of our country and others, perhaps because of the desensitizing nature of the media. But in times of devastation, America’s true spirit springs up like new growth.
Reviewing the ordeals our past generations have endured, such as the Great Depression and two World Wars and even a Civil War that divided state against state and brother against brother, it seems these trials have strengthened those who survived them, giving them a resolve. This resolve is one that needs continued nurturing. How easy it is to forget.
Whatever mess our political leaders are going to get us into or out of, I think it is clear the real reconstruction won’t begin in our nation’s capital, but rather, in the homes of America. “Little Red Wagon” reminds us that we can, we must, heed the words of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
In a small, yet organic way, both the Little Red Wagon movie and foundation do just that. “Little Red Wagon,” the movie, will encourage you to get involved. And Little Red Wagon, the foundation, will help provide one way you can. (Information for both can be found at littleredwagonfoundation.com.)
Little Red Wagon is rated PG for thematic elements and some language.
Phil Boatwright is celebrating 25 years of writing about Hollywood from a Christian perspective. In addition to writing for Baptist Press, he reviews films for http://www.previewonline.org/. He is also a regular contributor to “The World and Everything In it,” a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).