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Appalachian Power Employee Helps Make Season Bright With Santa Train

by on December 15, 2016

(Story by Teresa Hall)

ROANOKE, Va. — For nearly 75 years, the Santa Train has delivered hope and joy at the holiday season to people who live in some of Appalachia’s most economically challenged communities.

Appalachian Power employee Rob Arnold, customer design supervisor – Kingsport, knows the story of the Santa Train well. Arnold recently volunteered with a team that followed behind the train last month handing out food, toys and backpacks to children.

This was the 74th year that the Santa Train made its annual trek across the southern Appalachian mountains from Kentucky to Kingsport. Along the 110-mile journey, the train made 14 stops for Santa and his helpers to give out clothing, toys and food.

Arnold’s experience was one he won’t forget.

“I had the pleasure of working one of the food trucks that follows the train,” Arnold said. “Our job was to hand out food bags during the stop and to stay after the train left to make sure no child was missed with toys and backpacks filled with clothing.”

The annual journey begins in Shelby, Ky., near Pikeville in Kentucky Power territory, and crosses through Appalachian Power’s territory in the mountains of southwest Virginia before ending in Kingsport, Tenn. Over the route the train travels, approximately 15 tons of food, gifts and clothing are distributed along the way.

CSX donates personnel, equipment, logistics support, gift bags, train cars and track time to support the Santa Train each year; other sponsors are critical to the Santa Train’s success. Food City and the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce provide many of the donations and volunteers to staff the train, stuff gift bags, and provide gift storage, and Dignity U Wear provides the winter weather accessories included in each gift bag.

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