In 2013, our Santa Train video crew followed two first-time volunteers to document their experience on the train. Skip Elliott, vice president-Public Safety, Health and Environment at CSX, and Kylah Reynolds, CSX's FFA intern experienced the emotion and hectic pace of the day, and we were able to experience it right along with them.
CSX's Santa Train brought tears, cheers and merriment to community residents in parts of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee on its annual 110-mile run. This cherished tradition, sponsored by CSX, grocer Food City, the Kingsport, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and clothing provider Dignity U Wear, signals the beginning of the holiday season each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Volunteers, including employees and staff of the sponsoring organizations, served as Santa's helpers to distribute about 17 tons of toys and gifts along the route. Singer Kree Harrison, runner-up in the 2013 "American Idol" TV competition, joined the volunteers to greet the waiting citizens and hand out gifts at each of 14 stops. She helped cap off this year’s celebration at the final stop in Kingsport.
CSX's Skip Elliott was moved by the experience. "The spirit of giving from that first Santa Train lives on today, just as it did on its inaugural journey in 1943," he said. "To see the boundless energy and festive spirit among the many volunteers inside the train as it moves from stop to stop is infectious. To be able to witness the smiles and excitement on the faces of children of all ages as they are handed a gift reinforces what this time of the year is all about."
"The Santa Train also serves as a reminder that care and compassion for those less fortunate than many of us is an integral part of what makes CSX such a great company."