Kid Holiday Hero Helps Homeless

The 11-year-old raises money, supplies and awareness to help the homeless.

Jan. 2, 2009 — -- For 11-year-old Zachary Bonner, the rules of living and giving are simple: "If you have a good heart, you have to use it," he says.

That stunningly straightforward idea, coupled with an extraordinary determination, has led Zachary to do more for the homeless in the last four years than most do in their whole lives. He especially looks out for kids, just like him, who he said might just be unlucky.

"They're not out there because they don't want to obey the rules at home or whatever," Zachary told "Good Morning America." "A lot of times it's because they are in situations out of their control and you know you can blame a lot of people and a lot of things for this, but you can't blame the kids."

Click here for more information on Zachary's Little Red Wagon Foundation.

His quest, which has raised thousands of dollars, hundreds of packages of supplies and covered hundreds of miles, started in 2004 when Hurricane Charlie rocked many neighborhoods surrounding his suburban Tampa, Fla., home. Zachary saw the destruction and turned to his mother and asked what he could do to help.

"It was kind of crazy," his mother, Laurie, said. "It started off as a simple thing just to collect water."

At 7 years old, Zachary took to the streets with his little red wagon, going door to door and asking for water to give to those in need.

To his mother's astonishment, the pint-sized philanthropist collected enough water to fill 27 pickup trucks.

"I didn't think he'd collect that much water and then he did," Laurie said. "And he just kept going from there."

With his mother's help, Zachary started the Little Red Wagon Foundation.

In four years, he has created his own movement. He has managed to rally teenagers in cardboard boxes to raise awareness about homeless youth. He has donated supplies to underfunded schools.

The journey has been a long one, literally. Last year, he walked 280 miles, from Tampa to Tallahassee, Fla., with his mother and sister in tow to raise money. Last month, they did it again, this time from Tallahassee to Atlanta, Ga.

More than 250 miles and $7,000 later, Zachary and his family arrived at the Atlanta capital on his 11th birthday. The cash will help Habitat for Humanity build a house for a homeless family.

"I did tear up quite a bit," Zachary's sister Kelly said. "He's not just some kid. He's my brother, you know?"

Laurie said her son does all the legwork. He writes the letters, makes the calls and gets all the results.

When the holidays rolled around, Zachary set up a party for homeless families that probably would not have had much of a Christmas otherwise, complete with Christmas story time with Santa.

"Giving out the gifts and watching them receive gifts, I mean, it's just great," Zachary said.

Through it all, he has found his biggest obstacle to be adult cynicism.

"People don't think that it's real," he said. "They don't believe an 11-year-old can do something."

Laurie said her doubts quickly vanished after watching her son go to work.

"I never would have thought that he could do so much," she said. "After awhile he proves you wrong so that you're scared to doubt him. Just keep going."

Zachary has kept going and makes no plans to quit heading toward his ultimate goal.

"You know, this is my wish. And it's been a wish for a long time. There'd be no homeless kids -- to be no kid that doesn't have the same opportunities as any other kid," he said.