Matthews embodies spirt of Long Leaf Pine honor

Humble and hard-working with a heart as big as all of Sampson County, Jim Matthews embodies the characteristics of Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipients. That’s why it is appropriate that he became the latest Sampsonian to receive the prestigious honor Sunday in a surprise ceremony that took the always unassuming Matthews completely off guard.

We were privileged to be a part of that ceremony on Sunday because we believe there are none any more deserving of the honor than Matthews. From his dedication to his church, his business, his family and community, Matthews has steeped himself in work for others.

His love of community is only surpassed by his love of all people, and both are evident in the myriad actions, most of them anonymously, that have his caring fingerprints all over them.

From his early years as a Jaycee to his later involvement in the Clinton Kiwanis Club, Matthews has put action behind his belief that community involvement is vitally important to bettering the quality of life of its residents. And he has rolled up his shirtsleeves and helped both those organizations and many more raise needed funds that have been invested in children, the elderly and the poor for decades.

He was instrumental in beginning the Clinton Area Foundation for Education which supports students and teachers in Clinton City School, and is just one example of how he champions young people. Another would be his willingness to hire teenagers in his two businesses – Matthews Gifts and Matthews Drugs – year after year. An opportunity to work with Matthews is one of the highlights of many teenagers’ lives.

A devout Christian who continues to work tirelessly in his church, First Baptist, Matthews embodies the admonition of Jesus in the New Testament to “love your neighbor as yourself,” understanding that his neighbor is, indeed, his fellow man.

And he has done so, repeatedly, throughout the course of his life, helping others, no matter their socio-economic status, their race or their religion, helping others without wanting or expecting anything for himself. As a pharmacist and owner of a pharmacy, Jim Matthews has made sure that people received the prescriptions they needed, even if they could not afford them, and there have been countless times he’s made anonymous contributions to others without want of recognition for it.

Among the many accolades he has received from our community through the years, Matthews has been recipient of the Multi-Cultural Business Committee’s humanitarian award, given every year at the Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet, of which he is always a contributor. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Chamber Member of the Year Award because of his tireless efforts to give back to the community as a whole.

He has served on more committees than one can count, both in the community and within his church, all to help better the quality of life for everyone in Clinton and Sampson County.

Matthews is a true North Carolinian and a proud Sampsonian who embodies the spirit of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. We thank Gov. Roy Cooper for recognizing the attributes that all of us here in Sampson see day in and day out, knowing that they come from a man who listens to his heart and acts accordingly.