Little Red Wagon foundation holds on-campus event, celebrates film release

Photo courtesy of Philanthropy Project

The movie “Little Red Wagon,” directed by David Anspaugh, who also directed “Hoosiers,” is slow to begin but still has an emotional impact on the audience.

The film is based on the life of Zachary L. Bonner, who began his philanthropy at 7-years-old when he helped the victims of the 2004 Hurricane Charley by walking around his neighborhood with his red wagon.

“Little Red Wagon” moves through the next 3 years up to Bonner’s walk from Tampa, Fla., to Tallahassee, Fla., to build awareness for homelessness. Years later, Bonner began the Little Red Wagon Foundation, which aids homeless children all over the nation.

Within the first few scenes, the audience gets the feeling that the film isn’t going anywhere. While the story itself is extraordinary, “Little Red Wagon” doesn’t immediately connect with viewers.

However, as it continues, the characters begin to take on some real emotional depth. Zach’s mother is supportive throughout the entire film, and his sister is portrayed as the stereotypical teenager — rude and self-centered.

It is nice to know whether or not movies that claim to be based on a true story accurately depict the true events. In an interview, Zach Bonner mentioned that his family was approached six to seven years ago about the movie. They gathered information and when a screenplay had been created, the family was invited to look it over and give their approval.

“We read the script, we gave our input … to make it accurate,” Bonner said.

He mentioned that the film follows his life quite accurately, while his sister is portrayed differently than how she truly is.

“From the beginning, she’s been really supportive,” he said. Bonner explained this is one thing that was dramatized.

This dramatization is actually necessary in order to add conflict and to raise the emotional tension to keep the movie interesting. The family’s turmoil, coupled with the mirrored tale of a once suburban family suddenly finding itself homeless helps to heighten the importance of Bonner’s story.

One scene in particular tugs at the audience’s heartstrings, a homeless boy receives a backpack donated by Bonner and his foundation. The joy he feels at things like socks, food and even a yo-yo reinstate the true goal of the movie — to make people aware of the severity of homelessness.

“Little Red Wagon” will be released on Nov. 2, and the Little Red Wagon Foundation will have a backpack drive on the Tempe campus.

The drive will focus on raising awareness for the homeless children here in the U.S. These drives, and the work that Bonner and his foundation continue to do — including building a center in Tampa, Fla., similar to the Tumbleweed Center here in Arizona and taking a tour of schools nationally — seek to continuously bring attention to issues that millions face every day.

“Hopefully (the movie) will bring a lot of awareness, not just of the foundation, but in general,” Bonner said.

To learn more about the foundation and how to get involved check out the foundations website at


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