Paying it Forward in Jacobus, York County

This week’s Pay it Forward is in Jacobus, York County, where we surprised a man who’s feeding people’s bellies and souls with his homemade soups.

“The soup is more or less an outreach from mom, because she, she was always a giver,” said John McHenry, 79. “She was a giver when she had hardly anything.”

For the past 20 years, McHenry has been making and delivering soup weekly to people who are homebound, going through illnesses or just fans of his culinary creations.

“I charge no one, and I accept nothing,” he said. “If someone wants to pay, I say, ‘Give it to the church for the food bank.'”

McHenry’s recipes are often inspired by his mother Peg, who worked hard to raise five young children alone after her husband’s death.

“Mom made sure we learned how to cook and most of the cooking was done with the ingredients from our garden,” he said.

This particular week, McHenry had ten drop-offs to make, feeding a total of 22 people.

His first stop was Frank Franklin’s house. Franklin said McHenry’s soup is great, but his character is even better.

“I couldn’t say enough,” Franklin said. “He’s absolutely great. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

At McHenry’s second stop, FOX43 had a surprise in store for him, $200 from Pay it Forward.

“Oh my word!” McHenry said. “Now I’m going to have to make soup for another three weeks!”

Making and delivering homemade soup from scratch is no easy task.

McHenry plans to retire from his weekly soup delivery when he turns 80 on May 30th.

He said he’ll miss seeing the people more than anything.

“I’ve got fantastic people,” McHenry said. “I mean if they started out as strangers, they end up as friends, they always do. They’re fantastic people. And they’re all very humble.”

Family and friends are throwing McHenry an 80th birthday party on March 26 from 3pm-6pm at The Grove Building in Jacobus.

McHenry said he’d love for all of his friends to attend.

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