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All aboard the Santa Train!

posted: Tue, Jan 10th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Michael William Sullivan

A group of MOMS students with special needs recently joined those from Sandshore and CMS for a ride on the Santa Train. The annual excursion aboard a special New Jersey Transit train is sponsored by Railmen for Children, an organization founded more than 30 years ago when a group of conductors and engineers donated spare change to help less fortunate and special needs children during the holiday season. 

The Mount Olive students and attending staff members took the train from Clifton and were greeted by the Man in Red himself before boarding. On the train amid Christmas music and holiday decorations, Santa and his helpers delivered a personalized present (valued between $35 to $50) to every student along with a box lunch. Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and a number of elves and snowmen helped keep the atmosphere suitably festive. 

"The trip was a magical experience from the moment we stepped off the school bus," said Sherri McBride, an applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist here at MOMS who has been on the trip several times over the years. "Once on board, laughter and smiles were everywhere. The experience was priceless. Railmen for Children exemplifies the true meaning of the holiday season and the spirit of giving." 

This is the ninth or tenth time that MOMS students have been invited to ride the Santa Train, which this year started in Hoboken and made its way to Harriman before turning back.

In October, MOMS teachers and their students wrote a wish list and sent it to the Railmen. The organization's members took care of the rest, purchasing and wrapping the presents for the children – more than 400 statewide this year. The conductors, engineers, ticket agents, retirees, and their family members involved in bringing the Santa Train to life all volunteer their time.

There is no cost to the district, the students, or their families; to finance the outing, the Railmen conducts a variety of fundraisers throughout the year.

A combined total of 71 Mount Olive students and staff members took part this year.

Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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