Bruce Halstead is no stranger to the concept of generosity. The Nelson resident (recently honoured as Citizen of the Year) has a full plate working with others in an effort he became involved in some years ago. The world is in tough shape and help is needed all over, but Halstead and the group he’s affiliated with chose a location in Eastern Europe to focus their compassionate, philanthropic attention on.
Last week Bruce was in Castlegar and stopped by the office of the West Kootenay Advertiser after loading a half-ton (cab and all) with good condition, donated clothing from the St. David’s Anglican / Castlegar United Thrift Shop. By the looks of it there was no room left over for one more sock. He said that kind of a haul is routine, such is the level of support his outfit enjoys.
“We started over 21 years ago,” Halstead related before heading back to Nelson with the load.”We went to Romania and we adopted a child. There are 14 kids from this area who were adopted at that time. When we got back I got a group together… a couple of guys from Castlegar and a few others. We said ‘We’ve got to do something for those people,’ and that’s how it started.'”
As a bit of background, Halstead explained the level of need in a country like Romania which has struggled economically, even since the fall of communism back in the late 80s. He described how there may have been 10 per cent of the population doing okay when the communist regime was toppled, and some who may have inherited some prosperity along with a number of entrepreneurs who have been successful.
“But 60 per cent of the people there are destitute,” said Halstead.
“We brought a container up (from Purnel Distributors, John Kazakoff’s. We loaded it up and sent it over with two guys.We learned lots from that. After that we started checking every item, boxing it, because we had people who would bring garbage and put it in the containers.”
The group has been at it ever since, and has even branched out, working at other humanitarian projects including the creation and maintenance of orphanages in Romania.
All along the way the clothing drive has been going strong. Eleven containers have been sent or are en route and their contents distributed over the years. To put the effort in context, these are massive shipping containers, each capable of holding ten tons (or more) of clothing.
Bruce Halstead thanks the many Kootenay residents for their past, present and future support for this charitable labour of love.For more info, you can check their website at www.romanianrelief.com