Santa Train brings Christmas joy to needy families
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Before he takes to his sleigh every Christmas Eve: Santa hops the train. Only this train has no rails.
The past four dozen Christmases, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Forgotten Child Fund has worked to make sure every child has something under their tree on Christmas morning.
Each year the open applications before Halloween to gauge the needs of the community, and then ask your neighbors and businesses to dig deeply to meet it.
It's the fourth year for Rick Cooper and the Southern Cruiser's Riding Club. "It's heartwarming, you really learn to appreciate what you have," he said.
It was number 16 for CARTA's Annette Evans. "I consider myself the Rudolph of the bus transportation part, the lead bus," she explained.
And it's a caravan that keeps growing. "With fire trucks, with police cars, with ambulances and fire trucks, buses filled with civilians," noted Clay Ingel with the Forgotten Child Fund.
And each elf has his or her specific role. "We'll distribute what we've brought to share this Christmas with the neighborhood kids," said Rick Cooper.
Which frees Santa to focus on the ten neediest families. "When you pull up at a house, and the kids are not expecting it, and here comes Santa Claus coming out of a limo, and with all the people carrying toys and bicycles, they know for one time in their lives it's something special, just for them."
Korrina Kitchens thought she knew, but even she was surprised at how moved she was by the visit. "I'm pretty much overwhelmed, is all I can say. And my kids are too, they're all over the place. They've been having a rough year, so it really really makes me happy to know that they can be really happy, in just a few moments."
That alone is why hundreds, once riding this Santa Train, are hooked: In all, the Forgotten Child Fund's Santa Train brought Christmas to 49 children.
Including Eddie Pitman, the 14-year-old who saved his three younger brothers and sisters when their home caught fire last month.
If you'd like to be part of the Santa Train next year, call the Forgotten Child Fund at (423) 697-0031.