FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Remarkable Woman Finalist: Lori Schmitz

Remarkable Women

Fond du Lac County woman and her work with the Holyland Food Pantry: 'She's always there with open arms'

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WFRV) – On a quiet country road in rural Fond du Lac County sits the Holyland Food Pantry. That’s where you’ll find dedicated volunteer and board member Lori Schmitz. She describes Holyland Food Pantry as a supplemental food pantry which provides food once a month, more if someone is in an emergency situation.

For five years, this pantry – started by a group of churches and concerned citizens – has cared for their neighbors in need. And, as Lori points out, some of the neighbors most in need are children.

MORE ON THE HOLYLAND FOOD PANTRY

“Well, I want to tell everybody that the need is impacting children more than we could even possibly imagine,” Lori shared. “So even our small pantry serves over fifty children every month.”

They are children and families who need food, and staples, to help stretch meager paychecks. Most of the families who use the pantry are working families or people with disabilities, who need help stretching meager monthly incomes.

For those people, the food pantry serves an important need. Says Lori, “If we can help with that, if we can help people have access to food so that they can buy the cough syrup they might need, or whatever other products in their house, the tires to keep their cars going, that’s what we want to do.”

If you wonder why the pantry is called ‘Holyland’, you’re about to learn a little more about this area of Wisconsin. Since the turn of the century, this area of northeastern Fond du Lac and southern Calumet Counties has been known as the Holyland, because of the little towns and villages that populate the area. Towns named after the churches, mostly Roman Catholic, that came first – like Calvary, Jericho, St. Cloud, St. Joe and Marytown. You can find the history of the area preserved in the Malone Area Heritage Museum.

With such a strong history of faith, the idea of creating a food pantry really took off among churchgoers and the general community. Evidence of that can be found in the numbers of volunteers and donations that come into the pantry each day.

Lori says the pantry has a Facebook page, and whenever they communicate a specific need on their page, all the communities, their churches, their philanthropic organizations, and individual families are overwhelming in their support.

MORE ON THE MALONE AREA HERITAGE MUSEUM

That giving spirit really connects with Lori. Just ask her fellow volunteers.

Diane Thome is also a board member of the Holyland Food Pantry. She says that Lori really is really a welcoming presence at the pantry. Says Diane, “She’s always there with open arms; no matter if you are a client, a volunteer, or someone dropping off donations, she is front and center on almost every aspect of the organization.”

And as the need continues, Lori says she will be there to help.

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She explains, “I grew up as a volunteer. I learned early on that I had a gift I could give others, and I wanted to give it.”

You can find out more about the Holyland Food Pantry on their Facebook page.

READ LORI’S NOMINATION LETTER

“About 5 years ago it was discovered that there was a need for a food pantry in our rural farming community in the Malone area.

Lori along with others was instrumental in getting the Holyland Food Pantry started. Today we serve 40 families in our community.

Without Lori’s continual passion for the pantry, I don’t know that we would be able to do what we do to help the needy in our community. Lori puts in countless hours volunteering at the pantry as well as constant communication with the other volunteers. She is such a caring person who not only looks out for the food needs of our clients but helps them find other resources to help better their lives. She spends countless hours doing pantry work all with donating her time.

I think Lori Schmitz would be an excellent person to receive this award.”

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