HOUTZDALE – The organizers of Project Santa 365 would like to thank their supporters while also kicking-off the “Spread the Love” campaign.
Project Santa 365 is a community service project for the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, St. Victoria’s Court No. 646 of Houtzdale. Organizers wanted to thank the community after hearing from soldiers who received donations.
The following are letters received from soldiers.
“On behalf of the 609 ACOMS DET 1, deployed in Southwest Asia, I would like to personally thank you for all the boxes sent to us! We have a little area where we can put items for people to take. This area is usually pretty empty, but after receiving the seven boxes, we now have a full cabinet of items that folks will use for the next several months. This means a lot to us, especially around Christmas.
“For myself, Project Santa means so much more. Every time I come home to visit family, I look into Roger and Sharon’s eyes and see the pain of losing Bradley still there. It hurts to know that nothing can be done to ease this pain or bring him back. Instead, we as a community, have chosen to remember his name and to use this project as a way to let people know what a hero he truly was, in a time our country needed it most. Thank you for everything.”
– S/Sgt. Robert Kitchen, Berwinsdale.
Kitchen is a cousin of Pfc. Bradley G. Kritzer, who was killed on May 5, 2004 in Iraq and for whom Project Santa was started.
“Thank you for all you do with supporting the 333rd Engineer Company while we are here in Afghanistan. Your support is much appreciated. It comes to us just in the time of Christmas and for some of the troops, that hardly ever get mail, you have done a great deal of service to them.
“I also wanted to say to continue to keep up the service that you do. Your service to the troops does not go unrecognized. It will stay in the hearts and minds of the troops that received anything from you for a long time. Thanks.”
– Sgt. Tom Harvey.
“I would like to start this off with my name is Spc. Brown of the 333rd EN CO of the army reserve in Reading. We are currently in Afghanistan. The other day we had a few packages that were sent to us from this wonderful group filled with all kinds of goodies.
“It was a wonderful Christmas gift for most of us here that don’t get to be with the ones that we love over the holidays. This would be my first package that I have received from someone other than my family. It’s so wonderful to feel the support of the people back home in a box.
“But for all of us here, you can find love in some of the smallest ways. I want to thank you and all the wonderful supporters of this group that take the time out of your days and money to do these wonderful things for people that you don’t even know, but you support.
“It makes us all here so proud to do what we do when you have supporters like you and your group. We would all like to make a trip out once we all get home and give you a real thank you for everything that you do for the soldiers overseas. Thank you again for everything.”
– Spc. Brown Bryan
On behalf of 2nd Platoon/333rd Engineer Company, I would like to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the Project Santa 365 Program. I have soldiers from my Platoon in Northern, Eastern and Western Afghanistan and because of these movements a lot of my soldiers were not able to get their Christmas packages from their families in time for the holidays.
“However, we did receive the Project Santa boxes and we were able to get these out to my soldiers before Christmas; they were appreciated very much. I cannot express how much this meant to my soldiers and me.
“It was so nice to receive cards and gifts from people back home, and it made me extremely proud that all of this was possible because of people from my hometown. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be an extremely hard time for those that are away from home, especially in a combat zone.
“The packages that were sent definitely brought a smile to all of my soldier’s faces. Again, thank you for everything you have done for my soldiers and may God bless you and those others who are involved in this program.
“Also, I live in Harrisburg but visit central PA often to visit with my family. If possible, I would like to volunteer with the Project Santa program during the holidays or whenever help is needed. Would you be able to provide me with details so that I can assist when I come home?
“Thank you for your time,”
– Justin, Houtzdale
Project Santa 365 sent a total of 140 boxes of comfort items, including 200 Christmas stockings, homemade games and candy, cards and letters, to troops in Afghanistan. Tomorrow’s Hope of Utahville also received 50 Christmas stockings for veterans who have a temporary home there while they receive guidance on various services available to them.
The support from citizens, schools, businesses and organizations made this year’s Project Santa drive a great success, stated organizers. Organizers would like to thank all supporters, including anonymous donors, who “together made the lives of soldiers overseas more bearable and their hearts more full by the love and support you have showed for the past 10 years.”
The “Spread the Love” campaign has started for Project Santa 365. Any individual, group, school or organization can donate any of the following items or a monetary gift to cover postage for Valentine or St. Patrick’s Day cards to be marked “To Someone Very Special.”
Items of comfort include individual packets of coffee, drink mixes, wet ones, fish crackers, beef jerky, candy, cheese and crackers, Doritos, any U.S.-produced individual snacks, chewing gum, cough drops, hand/foot warmers or funny items for either holiday.
The items will be collected on Feb. 28 and March 3. Please contact Project Santa 365 Coordinator Debbie Kruise at 814-378-5514 or firstname.lastname@example.org for pick up or drop off information. Cards and letters may be mailed to Project Santa 365, c/o Christ the King Church, 123 Good St., Houtzdale, PA 16651.
Project Santa 365 was originally started as “Project Santa” by Roger and Sharon Kritzer when their son Pfc. Bradley G. Kritzer was stationed in Iraq. The Kritzer family continued Project Santa in memory of their beloved son who was killed in 2004 while serving his country in Iraq. As the torch was passed to the CDA, organizers decided to change the name to Project Santa 365, so that the troops would be remembered throughout the year.