‘Roger’s Wish’ exceeds all expectations
by Staff report
ELIZABETHTOWN — The month-long “Roger’s Wish” effort by the Bladen Journal to collect new and gently used blankets and sleeping bags for the area’s homeless and those in need came to a close on Thursday, and the results have been overwhelming.
“I think we’re all pretty surprised by the response we’ve had,” said W. Curt Vincent, general manager and editor of the Bladen Journal. “We had no idea what might happen when we started this, but so many individuals and groups really stepped up and showed their compassion.”
Vincent said more blankets and sleeping bags could still be brought in, but that more than 100 items had been received.
The entire project was the brainchild of Roger Grunder, a homeless man who was taking steps to turn his life around before being killed in a car accident on Aug. 30. Just two days earlier, he had been baptized and was excited about starting the blanket and sleeping bag collection.
“Most people in the downtown area of Elizabethtown knew Roger, and I think they saw not only how intelligent he was, but also the heart he had,” Vincent said. “The blanket and sleeping bag idea was just an example of that heart he had for those in need.”
After Grunder’s death, the Bladen Journal decided to pick up the idea in his memory, and “Roger’s Wish” was born.
Now that the collection of items has come to a close, the Bladen Journal will distribute the blankets and sleeping bags two different ways
— Homeless: On Monday and Tuesday, from 2 to 5 p.m., those individuals can stop by the Bladen Journal office and choose one blanket or sleeping bag.
Grunder’s sister, Maria Brandt, has agreed to help hand out the items both days.
— Needy families: Blankets and sleeping bags that are left over after Tuesday will be turned over to the Rev. Bruce Cannon with the Bladen Baptist Association, who will then pass them out to Bladen County families in need.
Cannon says people would be surprised just how many children in this county are sleeping on concrete and wooden floors with little or nothing to keep them warm.
“We have come to realize, by doing this, what Roger knew all along,” Vincent said, “which is the fact that Bladen County has a lot of folks who are in need of basic comforts, something as simple as a blanket.
“This project has been blessed by those who have given right from the start, and the reward for us has been in seeing that heartfelt giving along the way,” he added. “There’s no doubt that we will make ‘Roger’s Wish’ an annual event.”
Anyone with questions about the distribution of the items can call 862-4163.
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