LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — When Father Jim Sichko came into the lives of the Hughes Family of Orange, Texas, he did what he does best, provided comfort after their father died suddenly on their farm.
"It touched all of us deeply. He did not have to do what he did, and so we are all thankful to have him in our life," said Jessica Hughes, the youngest of nine children.
The Papal Missionary of Mercy paid for their father's funeral and reception, but then he did something he has never done before: He bought two steers.
"I texted my bishop and Pope Francis and my bishop responded, 'That's a lot of hamburger,'" said Father Sichko.
The two youngest Hughes children were taking the steers to auction, so Father Sichko bought them for a little over $11,000 to help with their college fund. One of those cows was gifted back to the family, but the other fulfilled its destiny. Father Sichko, along with the Hughes family donated 1,000 pounds of meat to God's Pantry Food Bank in Lexington alongside Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.
Jessica Hughes said, "It's not just going to one person but multiple families who need it, and I think that's great."
This donation comes at a crucial time. Quarles said the number of Kentuckians accessing food banks has gone up 30% due to the pandemic.
Quarles said, "One in four Kentucky school children and one in five Kentucky adults are food insecure, so we need to get that arrow pointing in a different direction and reduce food insecurity across Kentucky."
Just their first trip to Kentucky and the Hughes family has already helped so many in the commonwealth. They say it is a fitting thing to do in honor of the man they loved.
"My husband was always a giver. We always did everything else first before us, so it just seems appropriate that we give," Anna Hughes said.
In another act of kindness, Delta Airlines donated $100,000 to Father Sichko so he can continue his mission, and that included covering airfare for the Hughes family.
Click here if you'd like to give to food insecure Kentuckians.