Posted on

Couple with Holcombe ties fills Jeep for food pantry

Couple with Holcombe ties fills Jeep for food pantry Couple with Holcombe ties fills Jeep for food pantry
By Ginna Young It’s been a tough year, for a lot of people, but thanks to the efforts of Shannon and Matt Simpson, and a project they called #FillMyJeep2020, the Lake Holcombe Food Pantry received about 1,300 essential items this Christmas season. The couple resides in Onalaska, but Shannon has ties to Holcombe, with her grandparents and uncle, Jim Justus, calling the place home for so many years. With Justus involved with the food pantry, Shannon wanted to honor her grandparents who have now passed. A couple years ago, the Simpsons heard there was a need to fill up the pantry, which at the time, was located in a  small room operated out of the Holcombe United Methodist Church. The couple gave to the pantry for Christmas and each year after that, they increased the amount given. “And then this year, I just felt a little down,” said Shannon. “And I just felt like things are kind of negative out in the world…I thought, I need a project to keep me motivated and just keep the positivity.” Shannon contacted her uncle and asked what was needed at the pantry, with personal care items on the wish list. After thinking about it for a while, Shannon decided it would be fun to see if she could pack her Jeep with things to give the pantry. “I really didn’t even think that would happen,” said Shannon. Regardless, she put the request out on social media for friends and family to see, as well as those in her community. “We just started getting an outpouring of donations…for people they don’t even know,” said Shannon. “It’s nice that people three hours away, think of us,” said Justus. A lot of people wanted to see how much would fit in the couple’s Jeep, which ended up being quite a lot. During the month the Simpsons collected the items, included in donations, were 91 toothbrushes, 52 tubes of toothpaste, 72 sticks of deodorant, 181 bars of soap, 22 bottles of shampoo, 28 bottles of body wash, and many feminine hygiene products. That’s not counting the toilet paper, Kleenex, soap, scarves, gloves, hats and socks, and an $85 cash donation, as well as many food products. Many people encouraged Shannon to take photos of how full her house was with all the items and when the Jeep was filled. “Others just said they needed something in their lives to give to, as well, they thought it was a neat project to give to,” said Shannon. “Mainly, I just wanted to be able to come back to my roots and honor my family here, and give back – it’s like my home away from home here.” Because of the food pantry expansion project, there is now room to house the donations at the new location – attached to the Lake Holcombe Lions Club building (Staudacher Field). Hours of serving the public, are the second and fourth Tuesdays, from 2-5 p.m. Food pantry board members realized the time had come for a larger facility, which could house more food and even perishable items, something that couldn’t be offered in the past. Partnering with the Lions for fundraising efforts, planning began for a new building, with an expected timeline of a five-year project. Once donations started coming in, the group thought maybe they could get the building completed in two or three years. This November, the pantry was completed and opened for business. “And we did it in one (year),” said food pantry treasurer Dawn Rank. “It just blows my mind that we got that good of support, that we started the building in last May – we did our fundraising in a year, basically. The community has been awesome.” Although an open house won’t be held until spring, Shannon and Matt were given a sneak peek of the facility when they dropped off the more than 1,000 items, Nov.  25. “I hope this brings a little joy to people’s lives if they need it,” said Shannon. “We’ve been blessed, so we want to help others.” Shannon (left) and Matt Simpson came from Onalaska, Nov. 25, to drop off more than 1,000 items for the Lake Holcombe Food Pantry. The couple collected the goods as part of their #FillMyJeep2020 project, with donations coming from their community – some of whom spend summers in Holcombe. Photo by Ginna Young [caption id="attachment_102558" align="alignnone" width="300"] Lake Holcombe Food Pantry volunteers Jim Justus (left) and Bob Gamache had their work cut out for them Nov. 25, sorting the collection donated by Justus’ niece and her husband. Photo by Ginna Young[/caption]