Camp Siloam, a Christian camp for youth and families in Siloam Springs, this week announced a $1 million donation from Charles and Genevieve Bonner toward the camp's $3.4 million Feed My Sheep Campaign.
The campaign, which began in November 2015, has raised nearly $2.1 million for a new camp dining hall, which will replace the current Masonic Lodge that the camp purchased in 1923.
According to Jason Wilkie, the camp's executive director, the space is used to feed 1,000 people in an hour three times a day during camp. A structural engineer, health inspector and fire marshal all told Wilkie that the building needed to be replaced, he said in a news release.
The new building will be bigger — 28,000 SF — and seat 1,000 campers. Wilkie said the current facility is much smaller, has no restrooms, seats only 700 and "doesn't flow well."
The Bonners visited the camp in September and made the decision to donate on Oct. 1.
"Jason gave his time for us; he laid out the vision for the camp," Charles Bonner said in a news release. "We heard the history and heard his enthusiasm of what could be done, even in such difficult times. But it was a life or death need for the ministry of the camp."
Charles Bonner is now retired but worked as a Simmons Bank investment trainer for 20 years after working at Southern Federal Savings and Loan.
"When the Bonners visited, I was having serious discussions about reducing the scope of the campaign," Wilkie said. "I hate to say it, but I was having my doubts as to whether we had misunderstood God's vision for the camp. The Bonner family's gift to the Feed My Sheep Campaign was the transformative gift that the staff had been praying for."