Strangers pitch in after war revisits a Willmar family

Joshua Schmit, 26, was just 10 days away from leaving Iraq for good when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in 2007, the fourth time a vehicle he was riding in was hit. He died.

His dad, Greg, was about to be deployed to the region, too. He was in the Minnesota National Guard.

How the war ruined families was on display last week when complete strangers pitched in to help fix up the house for sale in Willmar, Minn.

Two months ago, the elder Schmit took his own life.

“He just couldn’t get past the fact that his son died in a war,” his wife, Kim, tells the West Central Tribune.

During one of Greg’s “down moments” as he struggled to overcome his depression, Kim said she tried to give her husband a reason to keep going by saying she couldn’t maintain the yard and house by herself.

“I said, ‘please don’t leave me. I just wouldn’t know how to do all of this. This is just overwhelming.’ And he said, ‘you would figure it out,’” said Kim.

Thirty employees of Jennie-O Turkey Store, who were in town for a sales meeting, got the place fixed up.

“It’s really an honor for this whole group,” said Keith Kratzer, from Lititz, Pa. “There’s been sacrifices we can’t even fathom and it’s just an honor to come out here and do something nice for people that need it,” he said.

“I love it, except my painting skills aren’t that great,” joked Claudia Foltin, from Seattle, who was standing on a ladder, staining a tall wooden arch over the sidewalk.

Related: After fire, Wis. company puts employees to work–in the community (Winona Daily News)