ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen Journal’s third annual “Roger’s Wish” project got a big boost this week when WWAY-TV3 out of Wilmington visited the newspaper to put together a story.
Reporter/photographer Taylor Yakowenko interviewed Jeffery Bryan, a friend of the late Roger Grunder, along with W. Curt Vincent, GM/editor of the Bladen Journal, about the project and their association with Grunder.
“Roger was just an intelligent man who cared a lot for people,” Bryan told WWAY. “It’s a shame he never got to really see this take off like it has, but I know he’s watching from above.”
Yakowenko, who spent some time at the Bladen Journal office filming the piles of blankets and other items already collected this month, also filmed the Bladen Journal’s second-place award from the North Carolina Press Association for community service in 2014 — which was earned for the second annual “Roger’s Wish” project.
“Roger had a servant’s heart,” said Vincent. “Even though he was homeless himself, I think more by choice than need, he was always looking for ways to help those less fortunate.”
Despite the fact the publicity has given the project a broader reach, the project is about to close, wrapping up on Monday, when all items will need to be delivered to the Bladen Journal office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Grunder, who originally came up with the idea for the blanket and sleeping bag collection in August 2013, was killed in a car accident late that month. Since he had coordinated the project with the Bladen Journal staff before his death, the newspaper decided to continue the effort in his memory.
“We thought at first this might be a one-time thing,” Vincent said. “But the public response and numerous requests that it continue convinced us to make it an annual event.”
The Bladen Journal staff will distribute the items collected over the past few weeks to those in need on Friday, Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Individuals will be required to select one item only, and must be present to select an item.
The items available include adult blankets, childrens’ blankets, sleeping bags, sheet sets, socks and more.