Bonner Leaders Honor Donors with Day of Service

Twenty students from the Bonner Leader Program at the College of Charleston spent a Saturday volunteering at the Charleston Animal Society to honor donors Steve and Maureen Kerrigan who recently committed $160,000 to the Bonner Leader Program. Their gift will fund domestic and international service immersion experiences for the students. As a way to say thank you, the Bonner Leaders planned a day of service focused on animal rights – an issue of importance to the couple.

The students were eager to educate themselves about the Kerrigans’ passion and were excited to engage in relevant direct service. At the Charleston Animal Society, students worked alongside regular volunteers to clean and store animal carriers, and turn donated bed sheets into chew toys for the dogs. Other students greeted potential adopters at the door and had the chance to help families pick out a new pet.

After their morning of service, the group reflected both on their service with the Charleston Animal Society and on what the donors’ gift means to them. Junior Elizabeth Burdette commented, “Travel has been one of the most life-changing aspects of the Bonner Leader program for me. I’m thankful the donors have committed so much to these opportunities and I am glad we could use our passion for service to honor the donors today.”

During the past three years, the Kerrigans’ generosity has enabled program participants to volunteer in Ghana, Peru, Morocco, Puerto Rico, and San Francisco over winter and spring breaks. In preparation for each trip, the students educate themselves on the culture and social issues of each community and they then develop a connection with the issue through direct service and cultural exchange. Upon their return, Bonner Leaders also host a series of education and awareness events on campus.

At hundreds of universities across the nation, the Bonner Leader Program offers students four-year scholarships that pair real-life work experiences in local nonprofit organizations with leadership development training to help students transition from volunteers to leaders in their community. All Bonner Leaders perform upwards of 300 hours of community service and leadership development training over the course of each school year in exchange for a stipend in their financial aid package. Annual service trips are unique to the College of Charleston Bonner Program thanks to the Kerrigans’ generous support.

For more information, contact Stephanie Visser at