Sorting through his newest donations Monday, Deni Bezeau wondered what treasures might lie inside.
The Nanaimo thrift shop owner, who turns every dollar he makes into donations for kids’ sports and music programs, is looking to give his next cheque to a good cause.
“He’s unique. I don’t think I’ve found anyone quite so generous as he is,” said Nanaimo resident and frequent customer Al Martel.
“He’s just such a great community member and we’re just so grateful to be part of the charities that he supports here in Nanaimo,” said Karen Love, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island.
Bezeau’s philanthropy started three years ago, when the 67-year-old Nanaimo man donated his first cheque for a few hundred dollars to the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island.
“I never thought that it would grow the way that it has grown, and when I realized the need more than anything, I realized how much more I needed to do,” said Bezeau. “And here it’s turned into hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The money he raises that goes to youth programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs is “very much needed,” said Love.
Selling clocks of all kinds, old records, antiques, and even wedding dresses, his ‘Deni’s Dynamite Deals’ has become the heart of his south Nanaimo neighbourhood.
“Definitely the community’s strong in the south end, and certainly Deni helps so much for that,” said customer Pam James.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of that,” said Bezeau.
In addition to donating funds from sales of his store’s donated goods, Bezeau supplements donations by pulling money from his monthly pension from being employed as a tile layer for 45 years.
“I have never gone without and don’t want anyone else to,” said Bezeau.
The last cheque he cut on April 12 was for $30,000 — a generosity that astounds his customers.
“That’s remarkable. I can’t believe the time and the effort that’s put in by him,” said customer Allison Matthies.
“I can’t help but come in here,” said Martel.
According to Bezeau, the community that’s been built around the shop has been worth every penny.
He hopes to continue amassing amazing donations for another two years, before retiring and letting someone else pick up the giving torch from there.