Giving back to Orange

Published 10:07 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Just before things went from bad to worse with the vengeance of Tropical Storm Harvey, Father Jim Sichko bought lunch for everyone at Spanky’s.

“I wanted to help keep everyone’s spirits up,” Sichko said.

During the ‘mega storm’, as he referred to Harvey, be partnered with Murphy’s USA to giveaway $2,000 worth of gas. Patrons were surprised to discover their were the recipients of $25 worth of free gas.

Then, a week ago, it was Domino’s Pizza.

“It was 300 pizzas,” Sichko said. “It was two large pizzas each. I opted for pizza because Friday night is Pizza Night at my house.”

The following Monday, 200 Happy Meals from McDonald’s for the kids.

However, none of that prepared Orange for the generosity of Father Sichko.

“When the storm hit, through friends who do disaster relief set up an Amazon page,” Sichko said. “I have several celebrity friends who put it out there and it went viral.”

Items were being shipped to his home in Orange.

“I have lived in Kentucky for 20 years, but Orange is still my hometown,” Sichko said. “I still have a house here.”

He, himself, was overwhelmed at the number of delivers arriving. In all, over $80,000 worth of brand new items. Some donated by a well known television host and a country singer whom wishes to remain anonymous.

“My garage is full of more items,” Sichko said on Thursday. “And more is still being shipped.”

St. Mary’s Catholic School gym was filled with a wide range of items from cattle feed, dog food, irons, first aid items and more.

“I am trying to give to help people and the generations which helped me,” Sichko said.

Sichko added he would not be able to do this without the support of Bishop John Stowe in Lexington, Kentucky, who allowed Sichko to come to Orange to help out his hometown.

Sichko is also a Papal Missionary of Mercy. He is one of 1000 in the world and of the 100 in the United States.

Each priest was selected by Pope Francis when he began the program two years ago.

“There is no manual,” Sichko said. “It is to be compassionate, and be merciful to those in need in any circumstance.”

It is his compassion which will shine through on Saturday as residents of Orange County, which according to him, includes Deweyville, will be able to ‘shop’ for items at St. Mary’s Catholic School, 2600 Bob Hall Road in Orange from 8 a.m. – noon. ID for proof of residency is required. One bag per family.

“I was taught in school that Deweyville was part of Orange County,” Sichko said in a Facebook post.

Residents will be allowed to fill a bag with needed items.

“Some of the bags will have gold stars in them,” Sichko said. “That person will receive an added bonus such as cash or their utility bill paid for a month.”

He insisted this experience be a time of receiving for the county by refusing to allow local people help with the set up or distribution.

“People have been giving and helping each other out,” Sichko said. “This is a day of receiving and being thankful. This is not about hoarding but sharing and giving.”