It’s been a bittersweet week after co-founder of The Love Kitchen, Helen Ashe, passed away. The organization also marked 32 years since its start on February 14, 1986.

Since Ashe’s passing, donations have been pouring into The Love Kitchen in honor of her and her twin sister, Ellen Turner, who passed away in 2015.

Knox County leaders dropped off Wednesday six barrels of donated food and a check for nearly $2,400 to The Love Kitchen. The canned goods had been collected in December during the annual Holiday Festival of Lights Event. All this ensuring Helen and Ellen’s generous mission lives on.

On Valentine’s Day, two volunteers are thinking of a love story which started at The Love Kitchen nearly 19 years ago.

Every Tuesday the Hinkles come to volunteer.

“It’s our place,” said Patty Hinkle.

Years ago life led Patty and her husband Ray, separately, to begin volunteering at the organization. They say Helen and Ellen guided more than just their kitchen.

“I think they recognized something before we ever met each other,” said Ray Hinkle, who was volunteering during the day and Patty volunteered at night.

“Helen would come over and she’d tug on my shirt and she’d say, ‘Ray, we’ve got the most beautiful young lady that we want you to meet,'” he said.

He says it took time getting their paths to cross. 

“They’d go and tug on Patty’s shirt and say ‘Oh we’ve got this handsome young man. We’ll have you meet him,'” said Ray Hinkle.

Instead of waiting on fate, Helen and Ellen put Ray and Patty on a committee, even seating them next to each other that first meeting.

Ray Hinkle says it was love at first sight and over the years the sisters shared in their joy of an engagement and then a marriage.

“I see them everywhere, every time. You certainly feel their presence,” he said.

A receiving of friends will be held for Ashe at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. A service will follow on Saturday at the church starting at 1 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

The Love Kitchen has been receiving an outpouring of support and messages since Helen’s passing. They say many are asking how they can keep the sister’s legacy alive. The easiest ways are to volunteer time, donate food, or make a monetary donation. If you’d like to learn more about The Love Kitchen you can do so, by clicking here.