Bonnie Widener Wood Is Doing More Than Winning Awards: She’s Making a Difference

Posted by Monica Hoel
How does a woman end up with 5 Emmy awards? Well, it starts with a cattle truck.

Bonnie Widener Wood has won 5 Emmy awards...so far. Bonnie Widener Wood has won 5 Emmy awards...so far.Bonnie Widener Wood has worked at 7News (WJLA in Washington D.C.) for 24 years, and she has 5 Emmys on her shelf that speak to her abilities. She has earned three awards for work as a Promotions Manager and Producer. More recently she has earned two of the prestigious awards for her work in community service.

When the General Manager came to her with a proposal to focus solely on community relations, Bonnie saw an opportunity for a new challenge. What she didn’t know was just how big that challenge would be: she took the new job only months before the world was plunged into a pandemic.

Part of her new assignment was a familiar beat: Toys for Tots. Interestingly, this year marks the 75th anniversary of Toys for Tots and the 75th anniversary of 7News. In 2021, Bonnie and her team collected more than 21,000 toys to be distributed throughout Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland (dubbed the DMV). Toys for Tots distributed 18 million toys around the country last year.

But once the impact of the pandemic came into full focus, Bonnie began to see more opportunities for service. The Capital Area Food Bank came to the station for help: they were overwhelmed by the number of people needing food assistance during Covid. “They reached out to me to see if they could get some pro bono spots for the food bank because they were really hurting. And we did that. But I realized we had a chance to make a bigger impact. It was a lightbulb moment, and I came up with this Feeding The DMV concept.” Bonnie says it was mostly about creating awareness, so she organized “Food Bank Fridays” and for 6 straight weeks the station news crew visited food banks in the region to bring attention to the long waiting lines and to hear some of the stories of those in need. “People were desperate and really needed food. I heard about a mother who hadn’t eaten for a couple of days in order to feed her child. When you go to these events and see who’s in the line you realize it’s everybody.”

In 2020 Feeding The DMV raised a half million dollars.

Her focus on the food bank continues today, and in February of 2022 Bonnie launched new fundraising efforts for Feeding the DMV with a “Kick Hunger” campaign that partners the station with the Washington Commanders. The face of the campaign is Bonnie’s fellow Southwest Virginia native, Gary Clark (former NFL wide receiver from Dublin, Virginia).

Bonnie Widener Wood with Marines collecting toys at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Bonnie Widener Wood with Marines collecting toys at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.Bonnie says her career in television started with a student internship at Richmond’s ABC affiliate that was arranged for her by her E&H mass communications professor, Dr. Teresa Keller. But her first post-college job was at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and she laughs out loud recalling the move from her home in Fancy Gap, Virginia. “My dad, no lie, moved me in a cattle truck to Richmond!”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Click here to enjoy a spirited conversation with Bonnie on the Duck Pond Wall podcast, where you’ll learn more about Bonnie and also about the interesting history of Toys for Tots. If you’d like to send a toy, visit Bonnie’s Amazon toy store.

  • Bonnie Widener Wood
    E&H Class of 1990

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2373-jimmy-lawrence-retires-from-virginia-tech-after-40"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.jpg" alt="Jimmy Lawrence Emory & Henry Class of 1979" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/11404_Lawrence_J_17MS_da_DK_1097E.rev.1655251680.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2373-jimmy-lawrence-retires-from-virginia-tech-after-40">Jimmy Lawrence Retires from Virginia Tech After 40 Years</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Jimmy Lawrence has just retired from a 40-year career as an athletic trainer for Virginia Tech, and he says there’s one experience that he has loved more than any other. <a href="/live/news/2373-jimmy-lawrence-retires-from-virginia-tech-after-40" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1231-luke-grooms-eamph-01-has-spent-the-covid-19"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.jpg" alt="Luke Grooms, E&H Class of 2001." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1214,1208/8070_Luke_Grooms.rev.1587556007.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1214" data-max-h="1208" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1231-luke-grooms-eamph-01-has-spent-the-covid-19">Luke Grooms (E&H ’01) Has Spent the COVID-19 Shut-Down in South Korea</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Luke is singing with the <em>Phantom of the Opera</em> World Tour. <a href="/live/news/1231-luke-grooms-eamph-01-has-spent-the-covid-19" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>