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Thompson Square part of 2012 Santa Train adventure

Santa 1The CXS Santa Train made its 70th run on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of being onboard this train, as it traveled the 110-mile route, making 14 scheduled stops to distribute toys and candy to residents along the tracks.  My three trips were made with Wynonna the first year; Wynonna and Naomi the second year, and last year, with Thompson Square. Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow me to be onboard this time.

Santa 9Thompson Square were onboard again this year, enjoying their duties as ‘Santa’s Helpers’, and giving the crowd at the last stop in Kingsport, Tenn., a short concert before the annual Kingsport Christmas Parade stepped off.

Santa 8In addition to tossing the toys and food items from the back of the train, Santa has a lot of ‘elves’ who get off the train with bags of toys (in color-coded bags containing age-appropriate gifts for the different ages of boys and girls). There are more than 15 tons of toys distributed each year, as the train makes its stops on the 10 hour trip.

Santa train 10Even though I didn’t go this year, I wanted to share some of the pictures the folks on the Santa Train provided. Hopefully, things will work out better, and my schedule won’t let me miss another trip on this wonderful adventure. I can’t begin to tell you all how special this run is. The people you meet along the tracks and the children who receive the gifts are so precious and appreciative. For many, this is their entire Christmas. The route runs through the coal regions, and some of the most depressed regions of this area.

Santa Train 2011 006One of the couple’s strongest memories from their time helping Santa happened last year — but still brings Shawna to tears. “There was a lady that showed up with her small baby,” Shawna said. “It was cold. It was apparent that she couldn’t afford a coat for her baby. She said all she wanted was a blanket for her baby. Santa gave her a blanket and I watched and heard her say ‘Baby, we’ve got our blanket, we can go now.’ That was pretty much it for me. Just to be able to be a part of it and be able to give back. … Keifer and I have been so blessed the past three years.” “We’ll come back anytime,” Keifer said. [Source]

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I’ll be back with more later. Thanks, Thompson Square, for helping out again this year with our CSX Santa Train. And thanks to all the Train sponsors – City, CSX, the Chamber, and Dignity U Wear; and of course the thousands of people who donate money and items, pack the gifts, and help load the train the night before it’s trip.

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