‘Roger’s Wish’gets off to aterrific start

Some people just can’t wait.

Over the past 10 days or so, the Bladen Journal has been the destination for 37 blankets and a single sleeping bag, mostly brand new and a few gently used. They have arrived early, before the annual call-out — the start of something bigger.

The fourth annual “Roger’s Wish” project — the newspaper’s community service effort to collect blankets and sleeping bags for Bladen County’s homeless and needy — officially kicked off yesterday. But for the first time, the project is starting well “in the black” with blankets and a sleeping bag in the “bank.”

Roger would be pleased, if he were here.

The annual collection drive is named for Roger Grunder, a man who was homeless himself for the second half of his 39 years. Grunder had a kind heart for those in need and often spent his days looking for ways to help others before himself. His smile could light up a room, his jokes would lighten any mood and his personality betrayed his chosen circumstances.

And though he left us at an early age, Grunder’s final few days perhaps solidified his legacy for those who knew him best.

In late August 2013, Grunder spent a Tuesday volunteering with the Bladen Crisis Center Thrift Shop in downtown Elizabethtown; on Wednesday the culmination of Grunder’s journey to the Lord took place with his baptism by water; and, on Thursday he got behind the wheel of a car he was gifted by friends — and died during a crash with a tree.

Roger was gone, but his spirit and memory and hope was not.

Prior to his death, Grunder spoke with the Bladen Journal about putting together a blanket and sleeping bag drive to help the local homeless and needy. Within a couple of weeks, the effort had begun and donations has started to come in.

And when Roger passed away, the Bladen Journal staff decided to keep his dream — his wish — alive, and the “Roger’s Wish” project was born.

Over the first three years, “Roger’s Wish” has collected and distributed about 450 items. This time around, we are hoping to exceed 200 items collected before the end of October, and the giveaway day has been set for Friday, Nov. 4.

The head start by the community has given us hope for a promising month of collection and a feeling that one could be epic. But that is entirely up to those in the community who, like Roger, have a kind heart for those in need.

But whatever the outcome, we know a couple of things for sure: Roger is watching over this project with invested interest and, he is already pleased.



“True leadership is servanthood. Put the needs of others at the center of your decisions.” (Anonymous)

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