HOUTZDALE – Project Santa 365, previously known as Project Santa, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary by adopting an entire unit that’s under the command of Clearfield native, First Lt. Justin A. Gilday.
Gilday is the son of John and Karen Gilday and a 1997 graduate of Moshannon Valley. He started his service in the delayed entry program in July of 1996 in the U.S. Air Force.
At that time, Gilday trained once each month in DuBois during his senior year at Moshannon Valley. Gilday left active duty in 2000 and joined the U.S. Air National Guard. In 2009, he transferred to the U.S. Army Reserves; he’s currently serving in Afghanistan. Gilday is delighted his hometown is remembering him and his unit.
Project Santa 365 was started when Moshannon Valley graduate, Pfc. Bradley G. Kritzer served in Iraq and mentioned some of his fellow soldiers never received packages. His parents, Roger and Sharon Kritzer, family and friends started sending packages of food and comfort items.
The Kritzer family continued to send packages even after their son was killed May 5, 2004 in Iraq while serving his country. They carried on taking care of servicemen and women whom they did not even know for seven years. The Kritzer family passed the torch to the Catholic Daughters of America, St. Victoria’s Court #646 of Houtzdale.
The Catholic Daughters added “365” to the project’s name after deciding to send packages throughout the year. They also remember Veterans at Tomorrow’s Hope in Utahville, with Christmas stockings and special drives.
“Project Santa 365 is successful due to the generosity of the public,” project organizers said. The Project Santa 365 Workshop is located in the lower section of Christ the King Church, 123 Good St., Houtzdale and is open from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Mondays.
The drive begins today and will end Nov. 25. Donations are being accepted by Northwest Savings Bank, Coalport; Clearfield Hospital-main entrance; St. Francis School, Clearfield; Leyos IGA, Coalport; Shop ‘N Save Express, Houtzdale; Tyrone Hospital; Holy Trinity Church, Ramey; Philipsburg, Osceola and Moshannon Valley elementary schools; Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School; Moshannon Valley Junior-Senior High School; and Christ the King Church, Houtzdale.
Donations may include but are not limited to: Christmas stockings/hats, flip flops to wear into showers; MAC3 razors; warm boot socks; gun cleaning kits; hand and foot warmers; cough drops with zinc; individual baby wipes; toothbrushes; toothpaste; body soap (not ivory soap); body spray; body wash; phone cards; magazines; books; movies, comic books; playing cards; notebooks; envelopes and stationery; crossword puzzles; word searches; blue and black pens; dry erase markers and erasers; thumb tacks (to hang cards, pictures), scotch tape; individual crackers; Pringles; gold fish crackers; cookies and snacks; beef jerky; non-carbonated drinks (i.e., Propel); individual drinks, such as, hot chocolate, tea, coffee and creamer; powdered drinks, especially Gatorade; hard candy; Frebreeze; travel size packets of laundry detergent; underwear; air freshener; travel size games (chess, checkers); memory sticks, memory cards (i.e. PSP’s); blank writable CD’s; multi-tool or quality folding Knife; sunglasses; digital or disposable cameras; and most importantly cards and letters from home.
Monetary donations may be made payable to “Project Santa 365” and sent to Project Santa 365, c/o Debora Kruise, coordinator, 254 Lynn St., Madera, PA 16661. For questions or to volunteer, please contact Kruise at email@example.com; on Facebook or by calling her at 814-378-5514.