Meeting The Need: It Doesn’t Take Much To Make A Big Difference

I’m on my way up the wooden stairs of Randy Johnson’s front porch… I believe I can see him smiling… hard to tell… he’s wearing a mask.

He stands up and points across the street. He points to a home with a dumpster in front of it and says “Marty. I was working there. I had a full time job gutting and flipping the house. The coronavirus hit. The state shut us down. I got no income right now.”

I can’t imagine the panic I would feel, to be unemployed with 6 children to feed, like Randy.Sparkt

There’s more. Randy has six kids… one of them with special needs. Randy reached out for a little help so he could make a grocery run. I handed him two hundred dollars in Giant Eagle gift cards. He reached out to try and hug me… realized we both had masks on. He sheepishly backed off and we both smiled… I think. Masks make it a tough read these days.

I don’t know how much food two hundred dollars can buy for eight people. I hope it’s a start. I told Randy to reach out to me again. We’re ready to do more.

Our next stop. A few miles away. Mary Hensel meets us on the front porch.

Mary and her husband are retired. They’re taking care of 15 foster children. Spart

Mary’s holding a beautiful baby in her arms. I mean beautiful… probably a year old. She and her husband Dennis are retired. I was told they had foster children. I had no idea they were taking care of 15. I’m serious..15! Some of them filled the porch behind Mary… all of them smiling when we showed up:

When I saw how many children Mary and Dennis are taking care of, I ran back to the car and grabbed a couple more Giant Eagle cards to make our gift… YOUR GIFT… $200. I apologized that we couldn’t do more. Smiling ear to ear… Mary said “I was hoping for 100 dollars Marty. We will definitely pay this forward.” I wished I had 1000 dollars! “We will do more next time.” I told Mary as I walked away. The need is so dramatic.

Our last stop of the day… Virginia’s home. The disabled veteran reached out to Sparkt desperate for help. She had only nine dollars in her bank account. Would soon lose her trailer… her car… had little food. We gave her $450 in gift cards and cash (watch her story here). She broke down and wept. “Oh my God. I’m so grateful.” The need is so great.

Virginia reacted with surprise and shock at our gift. She says it will help her keep her home and car, and buy some groceries.Sparkt

Tomorrow we begin the journey again… house to house… family to family… doing what we can here at Sparkt to make a difference. All of the donations for the gift cards came from strangers wanting to help strangers. Thousands given so that families cat eat, people often saying things like “it’s the least we can do.”

It was Arthur Ashe who said ” Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Here at Sparkt..we live that every day. If you need help… let me know. If you want to help, let me know. I’m at

About Marty Griffin
Marty is a past recipient of three prestigious Regional Emmys for Outstanding Investigative Reporting and also won a Broadcast Achievement Award for an undercover story about Michael Irvin and the Dallas Cowboys. He was named the Best Talk Show Host in Pittsburgh in 2008 for the Pittsburgh Achievement in Radio Awards. Marty shakes things up weekdays 9 am to noon on KDKA Radio.

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