zach bonner walks the walk 12 year old crosses america to help homeless

Zach Bonner Walks the Walk for the Homeless

Zach Bonner is one of the first and one of the most inspiring kids that we have profiled on IMK.  His passion is the homeless and he has been giving to those in need since he was only 6.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley struck near his home in Tampa, Florida. Afterward, he collected 27 pickup trucks full of water in a little red wagon. He donated it to aid those who were displaced by the hurricane.

Then Zach created the Little Red Wagon Foundation to focus on helping homeless kids. There are 1.3 million homeless kids who live in the United States.  “These kids don’t have a home, they don’t have a safe place to sleep at night,” said Zach. “They’re out on the streets not because they want to be, but because it’s out of their control.”

Here is a chart that shows where childhood homelessness is worst in the United States:


Zach has led many incredible activities in his campaign for homeless children. In 2010, he achieved his boldest effort yet. Zach walked across the USA, nearly 2,500 miles, from Tampa to Los Angeles. And he did it all to raise funds for homeless kids.

As Zach said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Most people don’t walk a thousand miles, or 2,500, but what it really means is that we all need to take that first step to get something big done. If I’ve helped even one homeless child, I hope I’ve accomplished that.”

Most recently, in 2013, Zach lived outside in a box with only a sleeping bag and cardboard for 7 straight days to raise awareness for homelessness.  He received over 6,000 cans of donated food that he delivered to local homeless shelters.

This video tells the story of Zach and his cross country trip.

A movie, The Little Red Wagon, was made about Zach’s life. Here is a preview:

This chart shows the extent of homelessness around the world.

Homeless Around the World

Additional Resources:

  • Here is an article that describes Zach’s accomplishments.
  • You can learn all about Zach by visiting his website.
  • Check out other IMK articles and videos about the homeless.

Topics for Discussion:

  • What do you think it would be like to be homeless?
  • What is most unique about Zach? Why does he do what he does?
  • What character traits does Zach exhibit?

Take Action:

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.


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