The Florida teen who’s made national headlines for his service work is in the Lowcountry this week promoting his new movie and speaking to his peers.
Zach Bonner, 14, started doing community service as a 6-year-old, and he formed a nonprofit, the Little Red Wagon Foundation, a year later to help underprivileged children, especially those who are homeless.
In 2010, he walked from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean to raise money and awareness for his cause. His story was made into a feature film, “Little Red Wagon,” and its director was David Anspaugh, who also directed “Rudy” and “Hoosiers.”
The film will be released in 10 cities nationwide, and Charleston is one of those sites. Bonner, who arrived in the Lowcountry on Monday, said the movie was filmed entirely in the Charleston area, and that’s one of the reasons they chose to show it here. The Regal Palmetto Grande Stadium 16 in Mount Pleasant will show the movie for a week starting Friday.
“When we were here, we had a great response from the community so we wanted to come back,” he said.
Bonner will talk to an invitation-only viewing audience Friday as part of a series of events leading up to Charleston Philanthropy Week in November. The week-long celebration includes a Wonderific Community Service Award for children who have contributed to Charleston’s philanthropic community, and finalists for the honor will be invited to the movie’s premiere, where Bonner will speak.
He also will be at the theater on Saturday for the 1:30 and 4:20 p.m. showings.
Bonner planned to speak to a number of local schools while in town. On Tuesday, he was scheduled to talk to students at the Daniel Island School and Buist Academy, and today he will go to the Cooper School, a West Ashley kindergarten through fifth-grade progressive school. He said his main message is encouraging students to volunteer. It doesn’t matter how old or young students are, and they don’t have to be someone important, he said.
“You just have to have the desire to do something,” he said.
The Cooper School doesn’t have a service requirement, but it does do multiple school-wide service projects every year. Students help decide what those should be, the school’s associate director, Franci Ollard, said
“(Bonner) reinforces the message even you can make a difference,” she said. “Here is someone small like you doing big work.”
Bonner lives in Florida and is home-schooled as part of the Florida Virtual School program.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.