HOBOKEN, NJ, December 14, 2001 -- NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh today joined volunteers with Railmen For Children, Inc. for the 19th annual "Santa Claus Express," bringing joy and laughter to more than 370 special children.
Children from Essex, Bergen and Passaic counties participated in the holiday ritual which featured gifts, entertainment and a scenic round-trip train ride from historic Hoboken Terminal to Harriman, New York along NJ TRANSIT's Main and Metro-North's Port Jervis lines.
"The Railmen for Children organization symbolizes what this season is all about," Warsh said. "They give of their time, talent and effort to make the holidays brighter for these special children. We are pleased to have such dedicated employees at NJ TRANSIT."
"The Santa Train gives NJ TRANSIT's front line employees a chance to work together for a good cause," said Jim Tufano, president of Railmen for Children and a conductor on NJ TRANSIT's Boonton Line. "We try to make the trip a fun experience for the children. It's our gift to the communities through which NJ TRANSIT travels throughout the year."
Thanks to the generous donations of commuters and others, Railmen for Children raised approximately $15,000 to fund this year's Santa Train, which departed Hoboken Terminal with children from Essex County Day School in West Caldwell. Children from Norman Weir School and School 2 in Paterson and Forum School in Waldwick joined the trip by boarding at stops in their hometowns.
The children were served lunch and entertained by clowns from a local Shriners chapter. They were also greeted by Frosty the Snowman, elves, and most importantly, by Santa Claus, who distributed personalized gifts to each child.
Railmen for Children was created by NJ TRANSIT conductors and train engineers represented by the United Transportation Union and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. The founding members began the charity with modest means -- an empty five-gallon water cooler that organizers used to collect change from conductors and rail personnel working at Hoboken Terminal.
As the program expanded and word spread of their efforts, the group began receiving donations from commuters. In recent years, the organization has been able to personalize the gifts and toys for the children by working closely with the school officials to determine specific gift requests.
NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing bus, rail and light rail services for 380,600 daily commuters on 240 bus, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 163 rail stations, 26 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.
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