STERLING, Illinois--Dozens of plastic bags, filled with oatmeal, crackers, and anything else a child could need. Everything inside the Wesley UMC in Sterling filled and bagged thanks to Mary Jo Edge.
Mary Jo is packing up lunches for elementary kids to take home with them on the weekend. The program is called Buddy Bags, which Mary Jo now runs once a week on top of helping out with the free breakfast program, Loaves and Fishes.
“She does so much she is such an inspiration she does so much I call her mom and she don't get recognition for anything that she do and I thought it's time someone says thank you to her,” said Josephine Smith.
So Josephine nominated Mary Jo for the Pay it Forward contest, sponsored by Ascentra Credit Union.
“Josephine, thank you for nominating Mary Jo for Pay it Forward. At Ascentra Credit Union we believe in listening, caring and doing what's right," said Travis Kershaw, an employee at Ascentra Credit Union, "and her work in the community really exemplifies those principles, so that's why we are excited to give you $300 so that you can Pay It Forward to Mary Jo, congratulations."
A few feet away, Mary Jo and the other volunteers are hard at work, not knowing who is walking through the doors.
“On behalf of WQAD and Ascentra Credit Union we would like to present you with $300 for the Pay It Forward award for all the work that you do Mom, thank you,” said Smith.
As grateful as she is, none of this would have been possible without Mary Jo's husband, who passed away eight years ago.
“I've always worked I've worked in nursing homes I worked for home health care I've done this kind of work since I was 18 years old. Taking care of people is just a natural part of my life and when I lost my husband to cancer it was like I needed something else help fill that gap of not having him around anymore," said Mary Jo.
Mary Jo's loss was the town of Sterling's gain, getting her giving heart day in and day out.
If you know of someone doing good things in your community, someone who shows the core values of Ascentra Credit Union, which are Listening, Caring and Doing What's Right, nominate them for the Pay it Forward Contest here.