News

St. Mary Catholic School in Schwenksville honored area veterans while providing a 

“teaching moment” for its students

By Susan Rodzewich • Posted May 24, 2019

St. Mary Catholic School in Schwenksville honored area veterans while providing a “teaching moment” for its students.

Sponsored by the St. Mary Home and School Association, the May 23 event marked the school’s 13th annual Memorial Day celebration.  The day began with a 9 a.m. Mass at St. Mary Church, followed by a 10:45 a.m. celebration on the parish grounds.

The American flag was lowered to half-mast to honor those who have died while serving in the U.S. military/ The program also included the posting and retiring of colors, with students participating in a flag presentation, the distribution of buddy poppies, memorial wreath presentations, the reading of essays and a tribute to those who have fallen.

Pictures of area veterans were displayed at a May 23 Memorial Day celebration hosted by St. Mary’s Parish School in Schwenksville. (Photo: Susan Rodzewich)

The annual commemoration has grown to include numerous veteran organizations from near and far, such as the Boyertown, Lower Pottsgrove and Schwenksville American Legions; the Catholic War Veterans of Norristown; the Marine Corps Leagues of Boyertown, Wyomissing, Spring City and Red Hill; the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trappe; the Vietnam Veterans of America, Pottstown; A Hero’s Welcome, Reading Chapter; Battle of the Bulge, and several Pennsylvania legislators, in addition to its own parish veterans.

Veterans process into St. Mary Church in Schwenksville at a May 23 Mass honoring veterans. (Susan Rodzewich)

© 2019 Catholic Philly

Sykesville students honor veterans with bell ceremony, pinwheel display

Students of Sykesville Middle School look on as Chuck Ritz reads the names of Carroll County service members killed in the line of duty and Trevor Kilgore rings the bell of Maryland’s 9/11 Rolling Memorial.

Last year, as plans for the Westminster High School Class of 2003 15 Year Reunion began to take place, one classmate, Jason Officer, spear-headed the idea to do an absolutely wonderful and truly meaningful act to remember their classmate, and our hero, Matt: dedicate a section of Rt 97 along the high school to him! Signs would be placed on both sides of the road approaching the high school! This is a main road and a huge deal! We were astounded when Jason told us about this idea! Read more on our NEWS page…

Ken Koons/Carroll County Times / Carroll County Times
Del. Haven Shoemaker and Jason Officer present Julia Francis, mother of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a road sign naming Md. 97 between Hook Road and Md. 26 after her son who was killed in action.

Carroll County Times Editorial Board

THUMBS UP: Take a moment when traveling past Westminster High School on Md. 97 to reflect on the service and sacrifice of one particular Westminster graduate. On Friday evening, the Westminster portion of 97 was dedicated to fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder. Del. Haven Shoemaker headed the dedication at the high school’s stadium. Snyder enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating in 2003. He was killed in Iraq in 2006. The idea for the dedication was presented to Shoemaker by one of Snyder’s classmates. Shoemaker said he also felt it was important to honor Snyder… “This young man was a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us, and we thought it would be a small measure to get a portion of Route 97 dedicated adjacent to the high school where he went to school in perpetuity.”

Last year, as plans for the Westminster High School Class of 2003 15 Year Reunion began to take place, one classmate, Jason Officer, spear-headed the idea to do an absolutely wonderful and truly meaningful act to remember their classmate, and our hero, Matt: dedicate a section of Rt 97 along the high school to him! Signs would be placed on both sides of the road approaching the high school! This is a main road and a huge deal! We were astounded when Jason told us about this idea!

With the Class of 2003 onboard, Jason took the idea to Delegate Haven Shoemaker, who has been a Camp Snoops supporter from the beginning (introduced to the family by family friend Joe Renehan) who took it to the State House and made it happen!

Once it became official, Principal Baugher and Terry Molloy, Athletic Director, Westminster High, graciously worked with Jason and the others to make the actual dedication run smoothly. On Friday, September 28th, the official dedication was to take place before a football game between Westminster High and FSK, and the WHS Class of 2003 Reunion. Due to field conditions, these events were postponed. STILL, a large and diverse crowd showed up for the dedication. 

We cannot put to words what this road dedication means to our family. Matt was killed in Iraq 12 years ago. The fact that his classmates, his friends and his community still care about him so much is a gift beyond anything we could ever express.

In addition to members of Matt’s family being in attendance, there were childhood friends, elementary, middle and high school friends, and parents of Matt’s friends. There were many family friends, members of the PGR, the Ladies Auxiliary, American Legion and Legion Riders; Delegates and local representatives as well as representation from the Governor’s office, and Marines who did not know Matt but who came out to support him. There were former neighbors, teachers and members of the community who didn’t know Matt but who had learned about him over the years.

In a changing and sometimes difficult world, it is refreshing to see truly good and selfless things still happening. Jason Officer and Haven Shoemaker and the others who made this dedication possible deserve our thanks.
But so do every single one of those who came out to show their support for our family, and ESPECIALLY for our boy Matt, who is always remembered, always loved, and always honored for the life he lived, dedicated and gave for his country.

Thank you, Jason Officer and Haven Shoemaker for doing this for our Matt!!

November 9, 2017-Sykesville students honor veterans with bell ceremony, pinwheel display.

Catalina Righter, Carroll County Times

Updated November 9, 2017

In what is perhaps a rarity, a group of around 120 eighth-grade students gathered in complete silence on the lawn of Sykesville Middle School on Thursday afternoon.

They were assembled to view Maryland’s 9/11 Rolling Memorial, which visited the school as part of its Veterans Day remembrances.

Founded for the 15-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, by Chuck Ritz, the rolling memorial honors Marylanders who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as service members who have died in the war on terror.

The memorial consists of a 2,000-pound bell attached to a trailer rig. At its base, plaques memorialize the names of fallen Marylanders. During Thursday’s presentation to the middle-schoolers, Ritz read the names and ages of seven Carroll County residents killed in the war on terror and Trevor Kilgore rang the bell for each name.

“That’s for those who are lost,” Ritz said. “Echoes of their voices so they will never be forgotten.”

After the bell ceremony, the students planted red, white and blue pinwheels in the lawn of the school to pay tribute to veterans. Constructed of foam to withstand weather, some of the tributes were specificly dedicated to a loved one, while others were more general.

“Thank you for protecting us,” one read. “You helped so many people,” read another.

Secretary Eileen Williard came out to view the memorial with the students and began to tear up as the bell rang for each fallen service member. She and her husband are both veterans, and she said the traditions of Veterans Day are important to her and her family.

“It gives [the students] a connection,” she said of the school’s Veterans Day activities. “It reminds them that we’re one country together.”

Art teacher Diana Duda said she was happy that every student in the school was able to make a pinwheel. On Thursday, she wore a pin on her jacket to remember her father’s service. She said she hope the pinwheels will be “a little seed that grows into this garden of wonderfulness.”

Ritz said Thursday was the first time he has brought the rolling memorial to a school, and it was rewarding to speak to students who were not yet born in 2001 and help them understand why America is involved in the war on terror.

“We wanted to make that connection to educate younger generations,” he told a group of gathered eight-graders.

Principal Chris Roemer said of the groups: “[The students] have been very respectful and very reverent. I think they do understand.”

The school will host three presentations Friday related to Veterans Day, which is Saturday, Nov. 11. Col. Stephen Landry will present a POW/MIA remembrance table demonstration to sixth-grade students. Alison Malachowski, a Marine veteran and Gold Star mom of James Malachowski, will speak to the seventh- and eighth-graders.

Pricelda Landry, a language arts teacher at the school, took the lead in organizing the Veterans Day activities at the school.

A military spouse herself, she said it is important to teach the meaning of Veterans Day to students.

“It’s teaching them that, hey, these people are out there protecting their rights,” she said.

In addition, the LCpl. Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project is providing educational postcards to all Sykesville Middle School students that will help them understand the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Snyder was a Marine from Finksburg who was killed at age 20. Camp Snoops was started by his family to educate students and assist returning troops.

Landry said the POW/MIA ceremony seemed to hit home with students last year, and she thinks that the other speakers will be just as successful.

“It brings back the idea that freedom is not free,” she said. “You could have hear a pin drop. They were so attentive.”

crighter@baltsun.com
410-857-3315
twitter.com/Cat_Righter

On Friday, July 7, 2017, we traveled to Chesapeake Beach, MD to deliver a Track Chair/Stander to a retired veteran courtesy of a very generous Camp Snoops donor.

This Trackstander is a lifesaver for many veterans, as well as civilians, whose mobility is restricted due to injury or illness.

We appreciate the efforts of our donors, the action Mobility Foundation and especially Mark, Colleen and Katie from Off-Road Trackchair to help make this happen.

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On May 24th, St. Mary School in Schwenksville, PA hosted its 11th annual Memorial Day Remembrance to honor veterans and teach students about the importance of Memorial Day. 

This is one of our first communities to implement the mission of Camp Snoops and it is known far and wide. We welcome questions from anyone who would like to get one of these started in a school near YOU! Email or write us today.

In February 2017, members of Toops Troops (Westminster, MD) joined Matt’s Uncle Andy for a gun safety class which was won during the 3rd annual Camp Snoops Chili BBQ and Auction.

Thanks, Toops Troops, for a great showing at the BBQ and for your support of Camp Snoops!

Toops_Troops

Thank you to Chuck, of the Hope and Peace memorial for bringing out the beautiful bell and plaque monument that memorializes Marylanders who were killed on 9/11 and in recent wars. 

It was stunning and a beautiful addition to our BBQ fundraiser. 

Thank you to the American Legion Carroll Post #31 and its Ladies Auxiliary who supported us and helped make our 3rd BBQ fundraiser a success.

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Marie Sanbower, representing the Ladies Auxiliary, presented Camp Snoops Vice President Julie Francis with a check donation to continue our mission of Memorial and Veterans Day education in schools and communities.  

Please look at our postcards and arrange for some to be sent to your school today for Veterans Day! It’s not too late to get them to you! 

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September 2015. Matt’s sisters, Tracie and Sarah, receive a charitable donation from Greg Rattell on behalf of the Keffer-Lynch Golf Tournament, 

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July 2015

Hello, everyone! WE HAVE BIG NEWS! Fittingly, as it is Matt’s birthday month, we are officially a tax-exempt organization, having just received notification of our 501(c)3 status! We are so excited and wanted to share the good news with our friends and supporters! Thanks so much for all you are doing to help us promote our Camp Snoops Project. Make sure you get your tickets for the 2nd Annual Chili BBQ, to be held Sept 19th at the American Legion in Westminster. Tickets are on sale now!! Hope to see you there!

As part of the Camp Snoops mission to help students learn about Memorial and Veterans Day, we support the Stars for our Troops organization.

This Spring, Our Lady of Victory students in Cathy Menefee’s 2nd Grade Classroom helped to create star packs to be given to veterans as a ‘thank you’ for his or her service. A copy of the text that is in the packet with a star from retired American flags can be seen on out ‘Camp Snoops in Action’ page. Thank you, OLV!

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BLUE STARS3

In addition to promoting Memorial and Veterans Day education in schools, the Camp Snoops Project is proud to support veterans when we can.

Thank you to the family of Cpl Clyde S.Shippe, USMC who was kind enough to donate a custom made motorized wheel chair and medical bed after Cpl Shippe passed away in the fall.

During numerous emails and conversations between Camp Snoops and friends of Matt’s mom, Julie, the DAV Chapter 13 found a worthy recipient for both items.

We are so happy to be able to advance our mission in LCpl Matt Snyder’s name! Both bed and wheelchair will have a metal plaque attached, courtesy of the DAV, which will remember Cpl Clyde Shippe and LCpl Matt Snyder to all who benefit from this equipment in the future.

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Cpl. John Francis, USMC (Matt’s Grandfather), Col. Lou Schott, Jane Shippe (wife of Cpl. Shippe) and Cpl. Shippe’s daughter, Kathy (seated) gathered to turn over Cpl. Shippe’s wheelchair to the LCpl Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project to be delivered to a veteran who could use the custom-made wheelchair. A medical bed was also donated by the Shippe family to help veterans through the project.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Program honors vets in memory of Marine killed in Iraq – By Katie V. Jones, kvjones@tribpub.com

Among those who took part in the Sept. 20 chili barbecue fundraiser at the American Legion Carroll Post 31 in Westminster to benefit Camp Snoops were, from left, Nestor Escobar, Matt Snyder’s mother, Julie Francis, David Tortora and Rich Weichman. The three Marines had known and served with Matt Snyder in Iraq and had traveled from out of state to be a part of the kickoff fundraiser.
(Photo courtesy of Camp Snoops / September 24, 2014)

Among those who took part in the Sept. 20 chili barbecue fundraiser at the American Legion Carroll Post 31 in Westminster to benefit Camp Snoops were, from left, Nestor Escobar, Matt Snyder’s mother, Julie Francis, David Tortora and Rich Weichman. The three Marines had known and served with Matt Snyder in Iraq and had traveled from out of state to be a part of the kickoff fundraiser. (Photo courtesy of Camp Snoops / September 24, 2014)

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Matt Snyder attended Sandymount Elementary School and West Middle School before graduating from Westminster High School in 2003.

In October of that year, he enlisted in the Marines Corps.

In March of 2006, he was killed while serving in Iraq.

That May, his elementary school held a Memorial Day program honoring him. The event was a pivotal moment to his family.
“From that day, we wanted to do something in Matt’s honor,” said Jane Perkins, Snyder’s aunt. “Something about Memorial Day and Veterans Day to educate students.”

In May of 2014, Perkins’ sister and Snyder’s mother, Julie Francis, announced the launch of Camp Snoops, a non-profit that aims to help veterans as well as educate youth about Veterans Day and Memorial Day and how important it is to continue to learn about and respect the military and what they do, Perkins said.

Camp Snoops — after a nickname given Snyder by his fellow Marines — is still in its beginnings, Perkins admitted, though its website is packed with ideas on how to celebrate the two days.

“That camp is going to be a great thing,” said Ted Nettles, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group formed to protect families from protesters at military funerals. “The Patriot Guard did Matt Snyder’s funeral in 2006. I’ve known the family since then.”

Protests by members of the Westboro Baptist Church at the funeral led Albert Snyder, the Marine’s father, to sue the church leaders for emotional distress. The case was eventually decided in 2011 by the United State Supreme Court. The court ruled that speech on a public sidewalk, about a public issue, cannot be liable for a tort of emotional distress, even if the speech is found to be “outrageous”.

The site also lists practical things individuals can do, from writing thank-you notes to veterans to knitting scarves for homeless vets. It encourages people to fly an American flag and explains how to properly dispose of a damaged American Flag.

“We encourage Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs in schools with ideas on how to do that,” Perkins said. “We promote our own ideas and other ideas. A lot is still in development.”

In the planning stage is the creation of postcard-size cards featuring Memorial Day information on one side and Veterans Day information on the other, which they hope to distribute through local schools.

Among the actions now underway are fundraisers to support the efforts.

To Nettles’ surprise, Camp Snoops presented him with a check for $250 at its first fundraiser event on Sept. 20. The Maryland Patriot Guard will use the money to assist wounded veterans at Walter Reed as a part of Help on the Homefront.
“We were not expecting that at all,” Nettles said.

The fundraiser — a chili BBQ at a American Legion Carroll Post 31 in Westminster — was a great success, according to Perkins.
“There were so many people. We were so thrilled,” she said. “It was a great response, a great kickoff.”
“Saturday was an amazing testimony of what a unique and admirable person Matt was, that nine years later so many people unconditionally shared their support and generosity to a cause begun in his honor,” Cathy Menefee, Jane and Julie’s sister, wrote in an email.

“I think Matt would be so very happy to see us doing something that is doing good for the troops,” his mother said. “Matt was extremely, extremely dedicated to the Marine Corp. and his nation. I think he would be really pleased…I think it is something he would believe in.”

“No family should have to go through this. It’s just heartbreaking,” Perkins said of Snyder’s death. “With the military, it’s not like it goes away. You see it every day in the paper. So many folks go through this.

“We’re really looking forward to [Camp Snoops] doing great things in Matt’s name.”

On Sept. 30, Buffalo Wild Wings of Westminster will host a Spirit Night to support Camp Snoops, with a percentage of all food sales between 6 and 9 p.m. donated.

>>> Click here <<< to read more on the Baltimore Sun web page:

September 2017 

LCpl. Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project

From THE COLLEGVILLE WAY

www.thecollegevilleway.com

SCHWENKSVILLE, PA:   On Friday, May 23, 2014, St. Mary School held its eighth annual Memorial Day Remembrance to honor veterans and educate students.  The event was initiated by the family of LCpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in action in Iraq on March 3, 2006.  LCpl. Snyder’s maternal aunt was inspired by a similar event, which honored Matt at his Finksburg, MD grade school, Sandymount Elementary after his death.

This Memorial Day event, however, was unique because this year, eight years later, LCpl. Snyder’s mother, Julie Francis, was on hand to speak to the veterans and students and launch the LCpl. Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project.  This organization was incorporated in January as a non-profit and is currently in the process of filing for 501C-3 tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. 

The LCpl. Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project will benefit military veterans as determined by the board, as well as encourage and support patriotic education in schools.  This will be accomplished through funds raised from various events throughout the year.  The organization’s first fundraiser will be held in Maryland, where Matt grew up, at the American Legion Post #31 with Chili BBQ on September 20th.  Guests to the event will enjoy live music, good food, raffles, money wheels, auction items and celebrate the life of Matt while raising funds to be used to support the education of Memorial Day and Veterans Day is schools across the country.  Ticket information may be obtained at www.campsnoops.org.

LCpl. Matt Snyder enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a 17 year old high school senior at Westminister High School.  Following graduation, he left for boot camp at Parris Island, SC in September, 2003.  Matt shipped to Iraq in January, 2006 and was killed in his job as a HUMVEE Gunner, returning from delivering emergency supplies to the front line. 

In Matt’s legacy, his family will strive to encourage children and adults to honor our military through teaching the differences between these two American holidays, as well as continue to instill respect for the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make every day.  

September 2014 

From THE CARROL COUNTY TIMES 

Chili BBQ fundraiser The Lance Corporal Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project will have its first fundraiser with a meal, dancing and more from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at American Legion Carroll Post 31, 2 Sycamore St., Westminster. Look for chili, pork and beef barbecue, baked beans, salad, dessert, rolls, beer, soda and wine at the event, as well as a cash bar, raffles, a money wheel and a 50/50 raffle. Attendees can dance to music by the Chris Reynolds Band, too. Raffle items will include liquor baskets and Baltimore Blast tickets, a Ravens gift basket, a Blossom and Basket gift, a basket from Cookie Lee, gift cards, handcrafted walking sticks and more. Tickets cost $20 and will not be sold at the door. All tickets must be purchased by Sept. 10. To purchase tickets, make checks payable to L.Cpl. Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project and mail to P.O. Box 281, Douglassville, PA 19518.

The project will promote education about Memorial Day and Veterans Day as well as appreciation of troops and veterans through education in schools. It also seeks to provide assistance to wounded and returning troops and their families on an as-needed basis. Matt Snyder joined the Marines just after graduating from Westminster High School in 2003. In February 2006 he deployed to Iraq as a gunner and one month later was killed while returning to camp. Snyder had volunteered to deliver supplies to his front-line comrades when he was killed, according to his aunt Jane Perkins.

His Marine brothers had nicknamed him Snoops and named their base camp after him. Snyder’s mother, Julie Francis, said of his nickname: “This was because he was a gunner. Therefore, when he was on security detail he was up in the turret of the military Humvee as a lookout.” Snyder’s family got together to form a nonprofit in his honor, and incorporated Camp Snoops in its name. Perkins said, “My husband Tommy and I and my sister Julie, Matt’s mom, founded the charity.” While the nonprofit status has not yet come through, they are moving forward to raise funds. For more information call 610-636-7377.

Learn more at http://campsnoops.org or find them on Facebook. Lois Szymanski covers Finksburg, Gamber, Pleasant Valley, Reese, Sandymount, Silver Run, Smallwood, Union Mills and Westminster. Reach her at 410-346-7321 or szymanski3@verizon.net

Copyright © 2014, Carroll County Times

Organization honoring Westminster Marine to host fundraiser

Event to raise money for project promoting patriotic education

By Blair Ames, Times Staff Writer

September 1, 2014

The family of a Westminster Marine killed in Iraq in 2006 is hoping to kick-start a nationwide effort to educate children on the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

‘Chili BBQ fundraiser The Lance Corporal Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project will have its first fundraiser with a meal, dancing and more from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at American Legion Carroll Post 31, 2 Sycamore St., Westminster. Look for chili, pork and beef barbecue, baked beans, salad, dessert, rolls, beer, soda and wine at the event, as well as a cash bar, raffles, a money wheel and a 50/50 raffle. Attendees can dance to music by the Chris Reynolds Band, too. Raffle items will include liquor baskets and Baltimore Blast tickets, a Ravens gift basket, a Blossom and Basket gift, a basket from Cookie Lee, gift cards, handcrafted walking sticks and more. Tickets cost $20 and will not be sold at the door. All tickets must be purchased by Sept. 10. To purchase tickets, make checks payable to L.Cpl. Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project and mail to P.O. Box 281, Douglassville, PA 19518.

The project will promote education about Memorial Day and Veterans Day as well as appreciation of troops and veterans through education in schools. It also seeks to provide assistance to wounded and returning troops and their families on an as-needed basis. Matt Snyder joined the Marines just after graduating from Westminster High School in 2003. In February 2006 he deployed to Iraq as a gunner and one month later was killed while returning to camp. Snyder had volunteered to deliver supplies to his front-line comrades when he was killed, according to his aunt Jane Perkins.

His Marine brothers had nicknamed him Snoops and named their base camp after him. Snyder’s mother, Julie Francis, said of his nickname: “This was because he was a gunner. Therefore, when he was on security detail he was up in the turret of the military Humvee as a lookout.” Snyder’s family got together to form a nonprofit in his honor, and incorporated Camp Snoops in its name. Perkins said, “My husband Tommy and I and my sister Julie, Matt’s mom, founded the charity.” While the nonprofit status has not yet come through, they are moving forward to raise funds. For more information call 610-636-7377.

Learn more at http://campsnoops.org or find them on Facebook. Lois Szymanski covers Finksburg, Gamber, Pleasant Valley, Reese, Sandymount, Silver Run, Smallwood, Union Mills and Westminster. Reach her at 410-346-7321 or szymanski3@verizon.net

Copyright © 2014, Carroll County Times

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