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The twinkle in the eyes of the children tell the story of Indiana Rail Road's Santa TrainPosted Monday, December 5, 2011, at 2:56 PM
Wyatt Turpin, of Bloomfield, get help with his new camo jacket from Indiana Rail Road Company volunteer Diane Pine of Jasonville.
It's a holiday tradition that I hope never goes away in this fast-paced, high-tech society we live in.
There's something special about seeing the eyes of a youngster light up and glow when they receive a present.
I think sometimes we all forget what Christmas is really about.
I think it is just that commercialized hustle-bustle time of year that is filled full of stress. But then, it just takes seeing the joy and the twinkle in the eye of small child to prove me wrong.
On Saturday, I witnessed that special twinkle in the eyes of many as Indiana Rail Road Company's Santa Train rolled into Greene County with stops in Solsberry, Bloomfield, Linton, and Jasonville.
It was IRRC's 22nd year to bring the Santa Train to town -- a tradition that originated in 1989 as a volunteer project of company employees.
Santa arrives by train and each child and adults have a chance to come aboard, see the decorated train and give Santa their wish list.
Santa always has some special guest "critters" with him, including Rudolph, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman, the Christmas Mouse and many other super heroes.
The real twinkle in the eyes of the children were not witnessed in the rail car where Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted wide-eyed children full of wish lists.
The joy and spirit of Christmas was looming proudly in the "coat car" that housed hundreds of new coats, caps and gloves that were free for the taking by anyone in need.
In the spirit of Christmas and giving there were few questions asked.
If someone needed a coat they were welcomed into the rail car that was stocked full of new coats of all sizes and colors.
There was a special holiday feel when you walked into the coat car and were greeted by railroad company employees, family members or volunteers.
The eyes of little Wyatt Turpin and Jeffrey Alexander spoke to my heart when they each slipped on a new camo-designed jacket with the assistance of volunteer Diane Pine of Jasonville.
They were proud.
Their eyes said thank you many times over and sent a Christmas message of giving that we all should get a grip of and cherish deeply in our inner being.
This is the season to give to those in our community who are less fortunate.
Santa's coat car volunteer, Penny Farabee of Linton, said it best, "It's a lot of fun. It's great seeing a child smile when they get a coat."
Indiana Rail Road Company prides itself in reaching out to the community it serves. The Santa Train is an event company employees and executives try to make special.
IRRC spokesman Chris Rund says the event is more than Santa greeting youngsters and their families as a kickoff to the holiday season.
"It wasn't long after we started the Santa Train that we expanded the scope of the operation by collecting and distributing new winter coats, hats and gloves to children who need them. We were at a stop, and an executive from our accounting department who was volunteering on the train saw an underdressed child shivering in the cold while waiting in line. The fellow was wearing a very nice leather coat, and he literally gave the child the coat off of his back. That began our Santa Train coat giveaway tradition," Rund explained.
Annually, the company distributes more than 700 winter apparel items purchased by IRRC from regional retailers and Santa Train sponsors.
He agrees the coat car is a holiday tradition the company is proud to offer to the folks in the communities along the rail line.
"Any child who is in need can have one," Rund said.
The attendance at the local stops was impressive: Solsberry, 551; Bloomfield, 444; Linton, 630; Dugger, 491; and Jasonville, 486.
Overall, for the three-day, 12-stop tour, an attendance record was set at 6,771 visitors.
"I don't think we could ever stop doing this at this point. This is such a treasure," Rund said. "It (the Santa Train) just keeps getting more and more popular. Everybody is just in good spirits everywhere we go."
The twinkle in the eyes of a small child don't deceive.
The Santa Train is a great and blessed gift to each community. It's what Christmas is all about.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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