• Search button
  • Search
  • Translate

Walmart south remembers employee who had heart for animals

Associates donate $500 worth of pet food to Animal Care Center in his name

Kenneth Cummings, City of Jackson, TN Communications Director
July 1, 2021
Matthew Hill's Family
Jackson, Tennessee's Walmart south associates, Jackson Animal Care Center Director Whitney Owen and the family of Matthew Hill stand in front of a pallet of pet food, Tuesday, June 29. (KENNETH CUMMINGS/The City of Jackson, TN)

Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill


Jackson, TENN. – Associates at Walmart in south Jackson on Tuesday, June 29, honored one of their employees, Matthew Hill, who lost his life in a car crash in Jackson on Highway 18 on June 22, by donating over $500 worth of food to the Jackson Animal Care Center where he volunteered to fulfill his Tennessee Promise volunteer hours.

“It's rare that we come across community members that care about our program as much as we do as employees,” said Jackson Animal Care Center Director Whitney Owen. “And it’s very uplifting. It is very encouraging even in hard times like this with the situation we never want to encounter.”

Matthew began volunteering at the animal care center in the summer of 2020. According to Owen, Matthew was one of the first to begin after the implementation of the Animal Care Center’s orientation program for volunteers.

Owen, who has been working with animals for 15 years, said that even the animals could feel the positive vibes from Matthew. She said that animals who were standoffish with her would end up sitting with Matthew after he spent just a few minutes with them.

“We have volunteers and then we have volunteers, and Matthew was one of the best I've ever had,” Owen said. “He was just one of the calmest gentlest people I've ever met and I absolutely adored what he was doing.”

Whitney Owen hugging Matthew's mom

Jackson Animal Care Center Director Whitney Owen gives a hug to the mother of Matthew Hill at Jackson, Tennessee's Walmart south, Tuesday, June 29. (KENNETH CUMMINGS/The City of Jackson, TN)

Matthew was a part of the Walmart family

Walmart south’s People Lead Gena Twyman said that Matthew was an outgoing person during his orientation and that he wanted to learn more than the area of the store he would be working.

“He spent a lot of time with me learning processes and procedures of his job,” Twyman said. “He asked a lot of questions. He was very eager to learn more about the company as a whole.”

Twyman said that she and her associates consider each other family and that Matthew was a part of that family.

“If one person is hurting, we all hurt,” said Twyman. “So in his honor, we felt like that was the best thing we could do to honor him even though he hadn’t worked here long.”

Twyman said that when they received the call that Matthew had passed away, they wanted to do something to honor his name for the Animal Care Center by rounding up associates and take up donations.

The money went toward dog food that Owen said would be used to stock the Animal Care Center’s pet food bank.

“We thought, as associates, that it would be nice in his honor to give some donations,” said Twyman. “We raised a little over $500 to give to [the center] in his honor. It was a blessing to us all. “

Matthew's mom takes photo of pet food pallet

Heather Hill, mother of Matthew Hill, takes a photo of pet food as a Jackson, Tennessee Walmart south associate rolls it to the back of the Jackson Animal Care Center van, Tuesday, June 29. (KENNETH CUMMINGS/The City of Jackson, TN)

According to Owen, Matthew’s family asked Walmart to use his last paycheck as a way to buy donations for the Animal Care Center but the associates at Walmart had another idea in mind.

“Once Walmart found out that that's what [the family] was doing, the store manager decided to talk to the employees that Matthew worked with,” said Owen. “The employees that Matthew knew actually donated the supplies, so the family was able to keep his last check to do whatever they want to with.”

Unconditional love for animals 

Matthew’s mother, Heather Hill, was in tears as she listened to Gena speak on behalf of the Walmart associates and watched as team members loaded the back of the Animal Care Center’s van. She had no idea her son touched so many lives.

“I'm not a person that loses her words but I'm speechless over this,” Hill said. “I didn't know until we lost Matthew how much of an impact he had. People remember him and my biggest fear was that he would be forgotten.”
Matthew’s love for the animals at the Animal Care Center was unconditional.

His mother said that she would go through his phone and there were pictures of every cat he socialized with and every dog he walked. Matthew did not turn his volunteer hours for Tennessee Promise because he said it was not volunteering.

Associates load pet food

Jackson, Tennessee's Walmart south associates load pet food into the back of the Jackson Animal Care Center van, Tuesday, June 29. (KENNETH CUMMINGS/The City of Jackson, TN)

Before Matthew died, he had plans, while working at Walmart, to move in with his brother who lived closer to the Animal Care Center.

“He likes animals more than people,” Hill said. “He said that volunteering should be something you shouldn’t have that much fun doing.”

Owen talked of an instance where Matthew’s selflessness benefited the Animal Care Center by him purchasing equipment that he saw the center needed in order for the center to provide another level of care to the animals.

“Last summer before he started working at Walmart he found out that we did not have a scale for our neonatal cats,” Owen recalled. “We were having to kind of guesstimate medical needs as far as dosages on medication and things like that. So he talked to his family members and he scraped together some money that he earned and he ordered a scale from Amazon and brought it in and dropped it off.”

Owen said that he was just worried about the cats and wanted to sure they got “top-tier care”

“He didn't ask in advance. He did not tell us he was going to do it. He just showed up with a scale.”

Website by CivicLive. © 2024 Civiclive. All rights reserved.