Father Jim Paisley presents a $3,000 check to Tracy Selingo from Fork Over Love on May 25, 2022.

SHAVERTOWN – After raising more than $31,000 in donations by teaching people how to make hot chocolate, Father Jim Paisley is now paying that generosity forward.

On May 25, the pastor of Saint Therese Parish, Shavertown, and Saint Frances X. Cabrini Parish, Carverton, donated his parish’s half of the proceeds from its ‘Rectory, Set, Cook!’ video to several community groups committed to fighting hunger.

“I am still overwhelmed by the generosity of parishioners, family and friends. I was thinking maybe we’ll do $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 – but to reach over $31,000 by the generosity of the people is unbelievable,” Father Paisley said.

Father Paisley was one of nearly 30 pastor chefs who participated in the Diocese of Scranton’s ‘Rectory, Set, Cook!’ fundraiser earlier this year to raise money for anti-hunger programs affiliated with Catholic Social Services.

Each priest filmed a video of themselves in their kitchen. While most were serious recipes, Father Paisley’s tutorial on making hot chocolate was part comedy and part musical performance. Parishioners voted for their favorite video or recipe by making a monetary donation. Half of the money raised from each donation stayed with the pastor’s parish while the other half went to Catholic Social Services.

In keeping with his promise to donate all of the money he raised to hunger programs, Father Paisley presented his share – more than $15,000 in checks— to local non-profit groups that included Meals on Wheels of the Wyoming Valley and Hazleton, Back Mountain Food Bank, Dinner for Kids, Fork Over Love and his parishes’ own stewardship efforts.

“I think he could have poured a glass of water and had just as much success. I think it’s fantastic and is really a testament to his gigantic, open heart and the way that people respond to that,” Tracy Selingo, founder and chairperson with Fork Over Love, said after gratefully accepting a $3,000 check for her organization.

Started during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fork Over Love collaborates with struggling area restaurants to purchase take-out food and they provide the meals for free to the community. As a 100-percent volunteer and donation-based organization, Fork Over Love depends on community donations to keep its mission going.

“It really only takes one person to motivate the masses and it’s such a gift that he was able to do that and then provide to all of these organizations that are really in the fight to help people who are hungry every day,” she added.

The Dinner for Kids organization also received a $3,000 gift from Father Paisley and his parishes.

Their volunteer program packages food at Ollie’s Restaurant and hand delivers it to children in need in several local school districts.

“The scary thought is there is approximately 10,000 kids in Luzerne County that go to bed hungry. It’s a horrible situation. We feed 170 children meals, six days a week, in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming Valley Area and Dallas School Districts and we’re just scratching the surface,” Bob Borwick said.

Gary Williams from Meals on Wheels of the Wyoming Valley said its share of money would help serve dozens of elderly clients who receive food and comfort five days a week.

“One of the things that this donation does is help pay for our meals. We charge $6 a day for the meals but it costs us $9 a day to make the meals so it is through the generosity of individuals, churches, such as the situation here, businesses, that we’re able to do this and still operate,” Williams explained.

In all, the Diocese of Scranton’s ‘Rectory, Set, Cook!’ fundraiser raised more than $171,000 in donations and corporate sponsorships.