(LEX 18) — Kentucky has long been known for bourbon and basketball. But after the December tornadoes, the world focused on the Commonwealth for a different reason.
“How can your heart not be moved with mercy, and a sense of sadness, and devastation?” said Father Jim Sichko.
When he saw the devastation, Father Jim knew he had to act. So with an upcoming trip to the Vatican, he called on Pope Francis for a little help.
Father Jim gifted a basketball signed by Coach John Calipari and a vintage bottle of Buffalo Trace to the Pope, who then gave them back. Father Jim is now auctioning them off, with all money benefiting Kentuckians in Mayfield.
“It's just another form of ministry,” Father Jim said. “It's another form of compassion and human heart. We can all do something.”
His mission has since reached beyond the Vatican. Father Jim showed us checks he’s received as news of the auction spread on social media. While many people many not be able to afford a bid, he said, they’ve sent money for displaced Kentuckians instead, often from hundreds of miles away.
“I just got a check, and someone saw this article, and it was from a bunco group of ladies in Florida,” Father Jim said. “The people of western Kentucky not only have one another, but to be honest with you, they're in the arms of the world.”
The auction ends Tuesday at 6 p.m. So far, it’s raised more than $12,000. Father Jim is also traveling to Mayfield this week to help with tornado relief efforts and donate the money raised.