The holidays will be a little brighter this season for thousands of children thanks to the generosity of people that donated toys during this year’s annual Caltrain Holiday Train, presented by Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
During Holiday Train weekend, held December 2 & 3, approximately 35,000 people converged on Peninsula train stations to see the glittering show train, hear holiday tunes, see Santa and his friends and donate toys to children in need.
Approximately 2,635 toys and more than $3,200 were collected during Holiday Train weekend. An additional 415 toys were collected by Transit District employees and the SamTrans Stuff A Bus Toy Drive. Additionally, 100 toys were collected by Silicon Valley Community Foundation employees as well. This season’s Holiday Train brought in a total of 3,150 toys – a 24 percent increase from 2016.
Toys donated at stations benefit the Salvation Army Season of Sharing Program. A $15,000 donation made to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program by the Holiday Train enabled the purchase of approximately 1,500 toys for the non-profit organization. Since the Holiday Train’s inception in 2001, nearly 60,000 toys have been distributed to Bay Area children who otherwise might not have received gifts at Christmas.
Community support is a hallmark of the Holiday Train. Working at the San Francisco rail yard at Sixth and Townsend streets, volunteers spent every Saturday for two months decorating the train. Ambassadors at train stations helped pass out candy canes, programs and stickers to joyous onlookers. Local entertainers provided free entertainment at each station before the train arrived. Those people who volunteered to wear a holiday character costume were rewarded by the delighted response of the thousands of families who turned out for the event.
The Holiday Train would not be possible without the generous financial support of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Financial considerations forced the Holiday Train to go “dark” in 2010. In 2012, Silicon Valley Community Foundation stepped up to bring the beloved tradition back to the Peninsula by donating the seed money to get it started again. Over the six-year partnership, Silicon Valley Community Foundation has also helped Caltrain solicit donors to keep the train going. For the 2017 season, the Holiday Train collected $50,000 in sponsorships.
The Holiday Train would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors.
Handel Sunrise Foundation and Stanford Children’s Health are “Lead” sponsors. The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, Analog Devices and The Knight Foundation are “Conductor” sponsors. Robert Half International is a “Station” sponsor. The “Railway” sponsors were Brigid S. Barton Family Fund and White & Case, and the “Community” sponsors are Downtown San Mateo Association, The Ely Family and the Richard Omi Family Fund.
Bayside Equipment Company of Redwood City donated the use of a generator to light up the decorations. Other in-kind sponsors include Jim’s Handyman Services, Peterson Technical Services and the Subway store located in the San Francisco Caltrain Station.
About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San José, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain has enjoyed five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 65,000 average weekday riders earlier this year. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.