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Christmas Wishes

St. Nick making holidays brighter for local heroes

In his decades of giving back to the community with Operation St. Nick, President Joe Schmitz has never been more touched than when they started the “12 Days of Christmas Giving” program for military families.

“This program is the most emotional, meaningful thing I’ve done in my 30 years of St. Nick,” he said.
Last year was the first year for the program sponsored by Operation St. Nick and the Morris Daily Herald.

Current military personnel with families or veterans with families are eligible for a $2,000 Christmas wish. The organization is giving out 12 wishes that can be applied for by picking up applications at any Standard Bank in Grundy County, at the Morris Daily Herald, or online at by clicking on the 12 Days of Christmas Giving ad.

The wishes can only be granted to Grundy County residents who are currently serving or honorably discharged veterans. The original deadline for applications was Dec. 3, but it has been extended to Dec. 10.

The wishes are being increased to $2,000 this year from $1,500 last year due to an increase in donations St. Nick received, said Schmitz. Last year, 10 families were helped with wishes, such as purchasing airplane tickets for trips home, paying off credit card debt, paying rent and putting gifts under the tree.

Last year, Army Veteran Joshua Klecka of Minooka was a recipient who asked for some assistance with some credit card debt he and his wife acquired to purchase Christmas gifts for his three step-daughters.

His youngest step-daughter was in remission from leukemia at the time and due for an extensive check-up that was going to cause them even more debt.

The couple charged about $1,600 for gifts on top of the previous balance. They just wanted some help paying off the $1,600. Since Operation St. Nick did not have 12 eligible recipients, so it paid all of their credit card debt.

“I couldn’t believe it. It feels like a huge burden was lifted off our family. I didn’t know how I was going to pay it off and stay afloat with all the medical bills,” Klecka said last year.

For more information on the 12 Days of Christmas Giving, visit

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