Christmas in July
To give back to those who are serving, or have served, Operation St. Nick is granting wishes up to $3,000 for 15 Grundy County military families with children.
Serving our country has a very big effect on loved ones of those who serve. Family life is disrupted for spouses and children, careers put on hold, and the price of personal sacrifice is often life changing. We want to repay those who have served our country on our behalf by making it a little easier for their families. Wishes for this program will be granted in July.
To be eligible to have your wish granted, you
Complete the Form
Thank you for taking the time to view our items and as always, thank you for supporting our organization! Merry Christmas from all of us at Operation St. Nick.
Updated: December 5, 2020
"Sunday, December 5th was the annual Operation St. Nick Auction and I'm sure your mother, like my mother used to say, "It's better to give than receive." Mom was right. It took some years to fully understand what she meant. I found out over the years of working with Operation St. Nick that IN GIVING, we generate warmth, IN GIVING we feel connected, IN GIVING we really discover love.
To embody generosity, it is important to give and show compassion, taking responsibility for one another. If we all learned these lessons, the world would be a better place. The recent Operation St. Nick Auction in Morris and Grundy County demonstrated this truth through the generosity of those who donated and showed compassion towards the most vulnerable in our communities.
Selk, Allison. "Everyday Heroes: Joe Schmitz".
Morris Daily Herald
Updated: September 19, 2019
In 1952, 10-year-old Joe Schmitz crept out of his room to look out the window when he heard the toot of a car horn in the alley.
There was his father, decked out in a Santa suit, and there were some other men with him in a Ford truck. Schmitz recalled asking his father if he was Santa, which his father denied, but his father did say Santa could not bring food and toys to everyone by himself.
That night, Schmitz rode along with his father and friends and took toys and food to families in need at Christmas, which left an impression on Schmitz – he wanted to be giving like his father.
In 1979, Schmitz had $250 and bought food for a family at Christmas. That was when his nonprofit Operation St. Nick began. He was going to name it Operation Teddy, after his father Ted, but decided on a Christian name, St. Nicholas.
He continued to give food to a family until 1981, when attorney Paul Root gave him $500 to bless one family with food and gifts.
Now in 2019, the Morris resident has a board of directors and multiple programs under the Operation St. Nick umbrella. Schmitz operates with a $209,000 budget to bless the under-served in Grundy County.
Programs include $8,000-worth of bicycles for children with special needs; Operation St. Nick partners with Ambucs Grundy Area to accomplish the task. Eleven bicycles were given to children this year.
“It’s a joy to see the sparkle on their faces when they see they have a first bike, whether they are 6 years old or 26 years old,” Schmitz said.
The military program has a Christmas in July theme, and $45,000 was used to help 15 active personnel or veterans. The Back-to-School program used $40,000 to give each of the 300 approved children $150 to spend on clothing and $50 for school supplies. Each Christmas season, approximately 160 children received $250-worth of gifts, and the families received $300 to $600 in food, depending on their size. The last of the larger programs included the Family Assistance program, which helps families who are working through a crisis and need help. There was $40,000 budgeted for 2019.
Brittany Koch received funds at Christmas in 2018 when she came up short due to a shoulder surgery and complications. Koch said she could not work and still cannot work due to multiple surgeries over the past eight months, and Operation St. Nick was the only way her three girls would have had gifts under the tree.
“They took great care of us, and told me not to worry – that my kids would be taken care of. During a circumstance like that, I cannot express how much it helped. Without Operation St. Nick, I didn’t know what I was going to do for them; it was a blessing,” Koch said.
Durkin also recalled a time when Schmitz went beyond one-time assistance.
“One family struck a chord with him, and he followed up when they needed more assistance with medical and financial assistance,” she said. “He continued to keep in touch, not just at Christmas each year, and this happens time and time again.”
Durkin said Schmitz has also been a role model to the board.
“We watch him, and try to emulate what he does. He encourages us to dig deeper to help others,” she said.
Schmitz said the success of the nonprofit rests solely on the board and the people of Grundy County who offer support each year. The main annual fundraiser in December at radio stations WCSJ-AM 1550 and FM 103.1 consistently brings in over $100,000 in a few hours.
“I only wish my dad was here to see all of this; he was my inspiration, and I know he’s smiling down on me,” Schmitz said.