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2008 12 People You Need to Know: Hal Donaldson

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Tragedy, inspiration and faith have molded Hal Donaldson, and millions of people around the globe have benefited as a result.

Donaldson is president and founder of Convoy of Hope, a Springfield-based nonprofit Christian organization that has distributed $100 million worth of food and supplies to nearly 20 million poor and disaster-stricken people in its 13-year history.

What started with Donaldson and a friend handing out groceries from the back of a pickup truck to migrant workers in California has turned into a $25 million organization with nearly a dozen tractor-trailers and a 300,000-square-foot distribution center at 330 S. Patterson Ave. in Springfield, plus workers stationed in Belgium, El Salvador, Haiti and Kenya.

Donaldson also is editor-in-chief of Today's Pentecostal Evangel magazine, which is published weekly by Springfield-based Assemblies of God and has a circulation of about 190,000 worldwide. He moved in 1995 to Springfield from California to take the editor's position.

Two events in Donaldson's life went a long way in shaping who he is and the organization he created.

At age 12, while living in Concord, Calif., Donaldson's father, an Assemblies of God pastor, was killed after his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. Donaldson's stay-at-home mother began working temporary jobs to support her four children. For a time, the Donaldson family leaned on welfare support.

"I had this understanding of what it was to have cupboards empty and to go to school with holes in your shoes," Donaldson says. "There was a love for the poor from an early age, because I was one."

Donaldson's determination brought him to San Jose State University, where he earned a journalism degree in 1979. He also earned a bachelor's degree in Biblical studies in 1985 from Bethany University in Scotts Valley, Calif.

His journalism work led to the second event that inspired him to begin Convoy of Hope.

In the late 1980s, while working on assignment as a freelance author, Donaldson traveled to Calcutta, India, where he met with Mother Teresa.

"I said something like, 'You're a very special woman, Mother Teresa.' And she took my hand and she said, 'No, there are many who do what I do.' And that just hit me like a ton of bricks. I really vowed ... that I wanted to be one of those people who did something with his life to help the poor and the suffering."

Hal Donaldson

Position: President and founder, Convoy of Hope; editor-in-chief, Today's Pentecostal Evangel magazine

Age: 50

Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism, San Jose State University; bachelor's degree in Biblical studies, Bethany University

Career: Freelance writer; part-time journalism and creative writing instructor

Q&A Date: Feb. 12[[In-content Ad]]


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