Homecoming Lantern Walk adds new twists to honored tradition

October 22, 2012

Every year since 1917 the Arizona State University community has participated in the time honored tradition of walking up “A Mountain” carrying lanterns to light up the city of Tempe.

The ceremony will be upheld this year, but with a few twists that are sure to enhance the experience for all in attendance. Download Full Image

Sun Devils alike may participate in the Lantern Walk at 8 p.m., Oct. 26, by gathering at the base of “A" Mountain and making their way up the trail. In addition, attendees are also welcome to watch the event broadcasted live from inside Sun Devil Stadium. The new accommodations will ensure everyone has a clear view of the fireworks, beloved “A” and other surprises in store.

“The Lantern Walk has always been the passing of the school from the senior class to the junior class. This year we’ve kept the tradition, but revamped the ceremony to include access to the stadium for those who want to participate in another way,” said Natalie Sitter, Campus Activities.

For the first time in ASU history, the night will also feature the crowning of the Homecoming royalty – a selected court of individuals who best showcase what it means to have Sun Devil spirit, pride and tradition.

This year the student body decided to take a progressive step forward by changing the court’s title from “Homecoming King and Queen” to “Homecoming Royalty,” to remove gender formalities and become more inclusive of the ASU community.

“When selecting the candidates, we look for the two individuals from each campus who best represent what it means to be a Sun Devil. Gender isn’t really something that determines that,” said Sitter.

ASU was not the only university to forge a new path though. Northern Arizona University is reflecting a more diverse study body with their Homecoming royalty this year. For the first time a male was selected as Homecoming Queen and a female was chosen as Homecoming King.

“I believe that this reflects the progressive relationship between the NAU student body and the LGBTQA community. I also think that this is such a positive impact on the campus because (the winners) were voted Queen and King by the student body,” said Samantha Smart, president of the Associated Students at NAU.  

Students from all campuses are invited to take part in the night’s excitement. Parking and Transit will be extending shuttle hours to those not on the Tempe campus. The Metro Light Rail will be also be running.

Homeless children to benefit from ASU Changemaker Central backpack drive

October 23, 2012

Zach Bonner was just 7 years old when he decided to collect water and supplies for victims of Hurricane Charley in 2004 with his own little red wagon.

A year later, he formed the Little Red Wagon nonprofit organization to help homeless and underprivileged kids at the age of 8. When he was 12, Bonner walked the length of the country to raise awareness about the plight of homeless youth. Zach Bonner Download Full Image

Arizona State University is joining Bonner’s effort to help homeless children through a backpack drive benefitting Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, which provides services for underprivileged youth and kids who are on the streets.

“Phoenix was without a doubt one of the highlights of my 2010 walk to raise awareness of homeless youth. To have the opportunity to partner with ASU and Tumbleweed – one of my favorite organizations in the country – is awesome,” Bonner said.

ASU’s Changemaker Central has partnered with the effort through its mission to develop and nurture students by providing the opportunities and resources to inspire student-driven social change.

“Students involved with Changemaker Central view problems as opportunities," said Allison Oaks, student leader at Changemaker Central. "Homelessness persists and is a prevalent issue within our local community. We see a bit of ourselves in homeless youth, which makes students that much more motivated and eager to become active in contributing to Zach's cause and to join his efforts in eliminating poverty and homelessness.

"It's humbling for students to be able to give back and provide more opportunities for those less fortunate."

ASU students, faculty, staff and members of the community can drop off their donated backpacks at Changemaker Central locations. Another great option is to use Maroon and Gold dollars at the Memorial Union Pod Market to buy a backpack and necessities, such as a small journal and pen, healthy snack, deodorant and socks.

Gently used backpacks may also be donated. Drop off points are also at the Fletcher Library on the West campus, the Academic Center building, room 110 on the Polytechnic campus and at the Post Office in room 104 at the Downtown Phoenix campus. For more information, visit changemaker.asu.edu/home.php#1.

More than 3,000 youths are served by Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development each year in Maricopa County where there are approximately 6,250 young people who are homeless, according to the Children’s Action Alliance (2011).

“The Zach Packs will certainly allow Tumbleweed to redirect resources to meet other needs of the youth we serve, but most importantly they will help us have something personal and meaningful we can hand to any young person we touch in the community that has nothing of their own," said Richard E. Geasland, Chief Operating Officer of Tumbleweed. "Even a backpack can give a young person a feeling of personal pride and ownership that can be that nudge to change their life view to one that says there can be hope for something better for their lives.”

Bonner will pick up the backpacks during events at the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses at noon and 2 p.m., respectively, on Nov. 2.

The story of this extraordinary boy’s life is both heart wrenching and inspiring. Bonner, who is now 14 years old, has served more than 10,000 kids and raised awareness among millions about the plight of underprivileged children and their families via the Little Red Wagon Foundation. Bonner also focuses on events that take children out of shelters and give them opportunities just to be a kid at parties that Zach has hosted at places like Build A Bear, Chuck E Cheese and Six Flags Amusement Parks. Among his fans is Elton John.

The backpack drive coincides with the premiere showing of “Little Red Wagon,” a feature film based on Bonner’s work and that of the nonprofit Little Red Wagon Foundation Inc. The film is showing Nov. 2-8 at the Harkins Superstition Springs 25 Theater. Check local listings at: http://www.harkinstheatres.com/movieDetails.aspx?movieId=142226.

“I am thrilled to come back to Phoenix and be a part of the premier of Little Red Wagon,” Bonner said.

For more information about the backpack drive, contact changemaker@asu.edu.