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'I'm in there for the long haul' | Pastor with Southeast Texas ties lends a helping hand to Kentucky flood victims

Father Jim Sichko now lives in Kentucky, but still has family in Orange. He's helped people get back up after devastating storms like Imelda and Harvey.

ORANGE, Texas — Southeast Texans are no strangers to storms and floods, and they know how great it feels when others lend a helping hand during natural disasters.

That's why one Southeast Texas native says he didn't think twice about helping those suffering through the recent floods in eastern Kentucky.

At least 37 people lost their lives in the flooding after 8 to 10 1/2 inches of rain fell in just 48 hours in the Appalachian mountain region. 

As part of his job, Father Jim Sichko travels the world performing random acts of kindness for others. His latest mission is right in his backyard, in the flooded parts of eastern Kentucky.

“Go and help others and allow them to be transformed by your goodness and mercy," said Sichko.

Seven years ago, Father Sichko was one of hundreds of priests around the world designated to be a Papal Missionary by Pope Francis.

"I travel throughout the world preaching and doing extreme random acts of kindness," he said.

Father Sichko now lives in Kentucky, but still has family in Orange. He's helped people get back up after storms like Imelda and Harvey.

He is now focused on helping his neighbors in Kentucky, which he calls one of the poorest areas in the world

“They don't have indoor plumbing, running water, any of that. Electricity," he said.

On Sunday, July 31, Father Sichko put out an Amazon wish list, hoping to get donations to help those affected by the floods.

A week later, he says people have donated over 100,000 items, along with over $20,000 in gift cards.

Credit: 12NewsNow

"There's been 5,000 pounds of dog food sent by Ellen DeGeneres. There's been a whole, I would say at least maybe 300 cots sent by Delta Airlines," he said. 

Over 60,000 packages have shown up at Father Sichko's doorstep since last Sunday.

He says he even got a little help with the heavy lifting from the University of Kentucky football team.

"Three buses. 110 players. They came out and they knocked out 50,000 boxes and loaded three semi trucks," he said. 

Father Sichko plans to visit parts of eastern Kentucky starting Monday and says he has a few things up his sleeve for residents there.

"These people, just like the people of Southeast Texas, are going to need a lot of love and a lot of help over the next few years. I'm in there for the long haul," he said. 

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