What are you doing to help the poor? This was the question that sparked the creation of Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit organization centered around providing humanitarian relief that has helped over 115 different countries across the globe.
Hal Donaldson, the CEO of Convoy of Hope, started the nonprofit in 1994 after being invited to Calcutta, India, to write a book about humanitarian work being done there with Mark and Huldah Buntain’s ministry, Calcutta Mercy.
“When I arrived, my host took me to meet Mother Teresa,” Donaldson said. “During our conversation she asked me what I was doing to help the poor. I simply said, ‘Nothing.’ She responded saying, ‘Everyone can do something.’”
That was the moment the idea for Convoy was born. Donaldson has always had a heart for the poor and hungry. Coming from the San Francisco Bay area, he grew up among a melting pot of ethnicities and socioeconomic groups and he knew what it was like to be impoverished. He just hadn’t realized the potential he had to make an immense difference in others’ lives until that moment.
“I was a poor kid,” Donaldson said. “I had holes in my shoes and didn’t always have a sack lunch. I knew poverty. I don’t like to see people go without, because I know what that’s like.”
Since its creation, over 100 million people throughout the world have been helped in some way through Convoy of Hope.
One group of people that Donaldson and the Convoy of Hope organization as a whole has an especially big heart for are impoverished children. Through Convoy of Hope, Donaldson helped create a program called FeedONE that is specifically dedicated to feeding and providing opportunities not available otherwise to children in 11 different third-world countries. Currently through FeedOne, almost 200,000 children are being fed every single day. Along with the food, these children are receiving clean water, they’re receiving an education, and most importantly they’re receiving hope.
Throughout the month of November, University of Missouri Chi Alpha, a Christian campus ministry that works closely with Convoy of Hope, combined forces with Chi Alpha ministries on campuses all across the country to raise as much money as they could for ‘FeedONE month.’ Through Chi Alpha, Angela Jarvis, Chi Alpha missionary associate at the University of Missouri, was introduced to Donaldson.
“Hal has been a great inspiration to me in realizing that I may be one person, but one person can change the lives of many by one single step of obedience,” Jarvis said.
Donaldson’s heart for others not only stems from his past, but also from his faith.
“I consider myself a follower of Jesus and there was a point in my life where I began to really want to understand what that meant,” he said. “I began to read a chapter from the gospel every day for a year. What it taught me was that we have an obligation to help the poor and the suffering. That’s the primary reason I do what I do.”
Tom Trask, director of Chi Alpha at MU, explained that his first impression of Donaldson was of complete authenticity and humility.
“He’s extremely genuine,” Trask said. “From the very beginning it was evident that Hal is a ‘real’ person and doesn’t put on a show or a mask. What you see is what you get. [I appreciate] his humility. He gives credit where credit is due for Convoy’s success — to the Lord and to the people who work with him. As he humbly honors others, God honors him.”