Curtis Reliford is a hard man to miss.
He can often be seen dancing atop his giant white trailer, his smile beaming and music blaring as he collects food and supplies for poverty-stricken people.
He says his efforts began after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 wreaked havoc in his home state of Louisiana, displacing more than a million people in the Gulf Coast region.
He loaded his trailer with supplies and began the drive, making a stop in the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. It was there he saw impoverished conditions that astonished him.
He has, over the intervening years, made numerous annual trips to the reservation to deliver donated items to the people there.
But his efforts took a dark turn two weeks ago when someone broke into his truck and trailer, stealing generators and other tools and supplies.
Instead of dwelling on the theft, Reliford says he is choosing to focus on the positive part of the story.
A GoFundMe account set up by a friend had gathered more than $14,000 of a $20,000 goal as of Thursday.
“I really want to thank the community for jumping on board, supporting me and getting my stuff back,” he says.
Reliford, who says it’s bad luck to give his age, says he found his calling when he stayed for two weeks in the shack of a 95-year-old Hopi grandmother, who was raising her four orphaned grandchildren. The roof leaked, and mold grew on the walls.
He gave all he had to the village as he made repairs and did other work that was needed.
Later, he says he saw a traditional Hopi ceremony held atop a mesa.
“I saw the beauty of the land,” he says. “I was in tears of joy, tears of finding myself and tears of inner peace just observing this.”
Back in Santa Cruz, it took him another year and a half to refill the trailer, and he set off again.
“I drove 45 miles per hour all the way over there, happy as I could be,” he says.
Reliford says that none of what happened since he made his first trip was planned. Instead, he says “It was a calling.”
“I’m at the end of my life, and this is the way I want to go out, serving others,” he says. “Nobody can help everybody, but we all can help somebody.”
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