Loving hard: A tribute to Kylee Bruce
If you find a paper grocery bag hanging on your front door this Saturday, be sure to read the attached flyer.
You will learn that this is not your typical canned food drive.
You see, a family suffered a great loss two years ago, and to help them cope, they created the Kylee Bruce Memorial Foundation and the Love Hard Project.
Instead of dwelling on the sadness of losing a pregnant 24-year-old woman in a car crash, her family is instead carrying on her legacy by giving to those less fortunate.
Brandon Forseth and his late girlfriend's mother, Gaylene Moyers, have teamed up to do a canned food drive that will benefit Redemption House Ministries in Prineville.
This Saturday, April 13, their crew of family and friends will disperse across northern Prineville neighborhoods and hang paper grocery sacks on the front doors of 500 homes. The attached flyer will ask that you leave canned and nonperishable food on your doorstep. The crew will visit those same 500 homes Sunday and pick up your donations.
The Redemption House Ministries men's shelter and the women and children's shelter and guests who come to the Craig's Compassionate Café on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays will benefit from these donations.
"Brandon is a very generous person who has sponsored us before in fundraising," said Redemption House Ministries Executive Director Greg Sanders. "It is a wonderful feeling to know that many in our community go out of their way to assist us, and Brandon's heart is extremely compassionate."
Kylee Bruce was raised in the tiny town of Spray. She volunteered and worked as a caregiver and with special needs children. She was a preschool teacher in Mitchell and had just accepted a job as a preschool teacher in Bend at a Montessori School at the time of her death.
"That was her passion," said Forseth, who lives in Prineville.
On the evening of Dec. 20, 2016, Bruce was killed in a crash on Highway 97 south of Redmond.
She was 18 weeks pregnant with their baby.
The next day, Forseth posted a tribute to them on his Facebook page.
"I could feel the warmth and purpose our child gave you, and I knew I needed to be the best man I could possibly be for both of you, to keep you comfortable and safe," he wrote.
He goes on to tell her what he bought her for Christmas and promises to wait until Christmas to open the packages she had placed under their tree. He says how he knew she was going to be the best mom.
"You made me so happy, you were my future … everything I did, as hard as I've worked, every decision I made had you and your happiness in mind," he says.
His tender tribute letter went viral.
A GoFundMe online fundraiser brought in $24,610 — more than enough to cover the funeral expenses.
"After everything settled down a bit, we started talking about what we could do with that surplus of money, something that Kylee would want to be involved in or she would be proud of," Forseth said.
Forseth and Bruce's family considered starting a scholarship but decided they wanted to make it a little more personal and to help people change their lives.
"We started thinking about what we could do to make that money stretch a little further and have a bigger impact," Forseth said.
He got an idea from "Dirty Jobs" show host Mike Rowe, who has a "Returning the Favor" reality web television series that gives financial boosts to small charities in small towns.
Forseth and Moyers liked that idea.
Moyers, who lives in John Day, connected with a woman there who runs a Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter. The organization makes bunk beds and provides bedding to children who do not have beds and are sleeping on the floor or on couches.
Using some of the money from the GoFundMe account, they purchased comforters, sheets and pillow cases for three children and donated in Bruce's name.
"It's low-cost, goes a long way and makes a big impact," Forseth said of the donation.
They also donated to a fundraiser that benefitted the victims of a crime in Prineville.
Forseth, who owns a marketing and advertising business, set up a website called #lovehardproject.
"Gaylene would remind people to love hard and live happy when posting about Kylee. The #lovehardproject stemmed from this," Forseth said. "The idea from that is to have a hub where people can see what we're up to and a blog."
Eventually, they want to have #lovehardproject T-shirts and hats that people can purchase, and the proceeds would go back to the foundation.
Moyers, meanwhile, set up a #lovehardproject Facebook group that encourages people to post examples of loving hard and helping their community.
"It turned into a place where people came to tell their story of loss and grief," Forseth said, adding that people offer advice, share condolences, and tell stories of love and happiness.
This food-raiser project is an opportunity for Bruce's loved ones to do something with their grief and loss by putting that energy into loving and helping other people in the community.
So this Saturday, when you see a paper grocery bag hanging from your front door, bring it inside. Read the flyer. Pack the bag full of nonperishable food and set it outside your door.
You'll be doing it for Kylee Bruce and her unborn baby — you will have loved hard.
#lovehardproject Canned Food Drive
Friends and family of Kylee Bruce will deliver paper grocery bags to homes in the Northridge, Saddle Ridge, Mariposa and Buckboard neighborhoods of north Prineville Saturday, April 13. They will pick up donations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 14. If you missed the pickup time but still wish to donate to Redemption House Ministries, contact Greg Sanders at Redemption House Ministries, 541-903-0303.