Another Successful Santa Train!

Have you ever wondered how Santa’s elves must feel when Santa takes off in his sleigh to deliver toys to boys and girls worldwide? I bet I know EXACTLY how they feel: a bit tired but extremely joyful. I bet they can’t stop smiling, just like me.
I just got back from helping out on the 69th Annual CSX Santa Train. We are always more than happy to help out with anything CSX needs and we are very proud of our relationship with this outstanding company. They help us save thousands and thousands of dollars each year by providing freight for all of the amazing donations we receive and send out for the kids we serve through our programs.

This was the third year that we donated the toys to be given out to deserving children at 14 stops throughout the Appalachian Mountain region – all the way from Shelby, KY to Kingsport, TN. This year, Tam (our Associate Financial Director), myself and Karen (the President of our Board of Directors) went along on the Santa Train to help out.

Photo: Ed Rode Photography,

The first thing I can tell you is that I have never experienced anything like it before, and we’ve done plenty of events. I’ve volunteered at our Holiday of Hope parties, helped out at fundraisers and attended our Kids Wish Network On Tour events, but this was a totally new experience – one I am very proud to have been a part of. You could literally see the need in the eyes of deserving children at each and every stop and you wouldn’t believe the instant brightness of their smiles as they caught a brand new toy from Santa at the back of the train or were handed a bag of toys from a volunteer. It was awe-inspiring.

On the Santa Train, we were able to experience every aspect of being a part of this amazing effort. We helped organize the bags, we gave out toys at different stops and we even had the chance to throw toys from the caboose alongside country music duo Thompson Square and Santa Claus!

Speaking of Thompson Square, I don’t think I could have met a nicer couple of people. They were so down-to-Earth and friendly that you wouldn’t have believed that they performed at the Country Music Awards just a few nights earlier! Their fans made their presence known and Thompson Square couldn’t have been nicer.

There was so much joy throughout the Appalachian Mountains this past Saturday that you could feel the holiday spirit rushing out to the train. The smiles of the kids and their families as they received their toys and food warmed every single heart. One experience I had sums it all up: there was one little girl who was waiting behind the caboose with her arm outstretched to catch a toy thrown by Santa Claus. When she caught a stuffed animal, she immediately gave it a tight hug and started immediately kissing it like it was her newest, closest friend. Her absolute joy was contagious and everyone who saw her could not help but smile and say, “Aww!”

My time on this year’s Santa Train was something I will never forget. I met so many wonderful people and helped bring the giving spirit of the holidays to so many people who were in desperate need. I am so glad to have been a part of something so amazing and I am proud that we at Kids Wish Network were able to provide the toys for this event. We can’t wait to do it again next year and I know I can’t wait to hop back on that train!

Executive Director


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48,632 kids helped this last fiscal year through our many programs and services.

Our Mission

Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.