'Operation Toy Train' arrives in Warwick to collect toys for the needy

| 05 Dec 2017 | 07:27

— On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 3, Christmas was still four weeks away.
But by 3 p.m. and in spite of a light drizzle, a large crowd had gathered in the Chase Bank parking lot as Middletown & New Jersey Railroad Engineer Josh Shields, sounding a loud whistle, drove a diesel locomotive pulling a train of railroad freight cars along with passenger compartments into the Village of Warwick.
The train parked on the tracks across from Kuiken Bros. Lumber near the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce "caboose" office.
Marines, Santa and his elvesIt was the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots Special Train and volunteers helped load the train with gifts that had been collected locally during the holiday season.
Santa was also on board with the elves and a Marine Corps detachment and they spent almost an hour outside posing for photographs with children and families.
That day the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad's Toys for Tots train had stopped in other New York and New Jersey communities before arriving in Warwick.
Residents from each community had an opportunity to learn about working railroad equipment, and meet active duty members of the U.S. Marine Corps.
And in Warwick, visitors also enjoyed free refreshments provided by Kuiken Brothers.
22,000 toys in five yearsThis was the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad's sixth annual "Operation Toy Train" in the Hudson Valley Area.
Its mission was to collect donated toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation.
In previous years, by traveling throughout northern New Jersey and New York, more than 22,000 toys were collected each year on the train.
And all the toys are distributed locally.
After the Warwick stop, all the toys were loaded on to a tractor-trailer for delivery to a distribution center at Stewart Airport.
- Roger Gavan