The Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross in Minot has been added as a recipient of donations at this year's stop of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train in Minot Friday.
Mike LoVecchio, of Media Relations in Minneapolis, said the Holiday Train will arrive in Minot Dec. 16 at 7:15 p.m. He said this year's event will give CP an opportunity to thank the Red Cross for the tremendous work it has done during the Souris River flood, as well as the work of the Minot Area Homeless Coalition. The coalition is an annual recipient of Holiday Train donations in Minot.
LoVecchio, along with local CP representatives, made the announcement Friday at the CP yard in Minot.
Canadian Pacific Railway representatives announced Friday at the CP yard in Minot that the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross has been added as a recipient of funds from the Holiday Train event in Minot Dec. 16. The Minot Area Homeless Coalition will again receive funds at the event. From the left are CP representatives Dion Miller, trainmaster based out of Minot; Keith Hanson, trainmaster based out of Portal; Will Wangerin, superintendent of the Harvey Division; Mike LoVecchio, CP Media Relations, Minneapolis; Louis McLeod, executive director of the Minot Area Homeless Coalition; Allan McGeough, executive director of the local Red Cross; and CP special agents in Minot Ben Dahl and Craig Erickson.
About $200 worth of non-perishable food items also were donated Friday to the coalition on behalf of CP local employees.
North Dakota stops
LoVecchio urged people to attend the Holiday Train event in Minot and its other area stops.
"The more people that come, the more people that benefit ultimately from the Holiday Train. And, of course, everything that is donated at the Holiday Train stop stays here in Minot," LoVecchio said. He said that goes likewise for the Holiday Train's stops in Harvey and Carpio.
The train will make a stop in Harvey at 4:15 p.m. at the CP Depot at 600 Lincoln Ave., then travel to Minot, arriving here at 7:15 p.m. at the Main Street railroad crossing.
From Minot, the Holiday Train goes to Carpio for a stop there at 9:10 p.m. at the Main Street railroad crossing.
The donations collected in Harvey go to the Central Dakota Ministerial Association and in Carpio to the Burlington Food Pantry.
The Holiday Train is about 1,000 feet in length with 14 decorated rail cars, including a modified box car that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers. Each car is decorated with hundreds of thousands of LED Christmas lights.
The goal of the Holiday Train program is to collect food and money for local food banks and to raise awareness in the fight against hunger.
At every stop, people are asked to bring nonperishable food items to donate. They can donate money if they wish.
The Holiday Train has a box car stage, a lineup of musical talents and makes a corporate contribution to a local food bank at the stops.
Some changes have been made for this year's shows, LoVecchio said.
"We have a new stage this year, and one that we think the crowd is really going to like. It folds out from the boxcar. Willie Porter and Sidney Grigg are headlining the stage," he said. Porter, a guitar player, is from Wisconsin and Grigg is a fiddler from Nashville.
CP has two Holiday Trains, one operating in Canada and the other in the United States, said Will Wangerin, superintendent of CP's Harvey Division. Wangerin is in charge of orchestrating the Holiday Train as it makes its way through North Dakota.
Since the Holiday Train program began 13 years ago, LoVecchio said more than $5.6 million has been raised and more than 2 1/2 million pounds of food has been collected in Canada and the U.S. "We do 144 stops between the two countries," he said.
"The key is we don't take any of the money or nonperishables on the train with us. Everything collected at each stop stays there for immediate use in the community and then CP, on behalf of local employees, makes a corporate contribution in the form of a check to the food shelf. Sometimes, like we did this morning, we'll augment that with collections that have been taken out locally," LoVecchio said.
He said the program is unique and they refer to it as "North America's longest rolling fundraiser" for food pantries.
"It's something our employees enjoy doing. You'll go to these and see a lot of employees and their families," Wangerin added.
"What we are hearing anecdotally as the train makes its way west is the need is as great as ever. So as much as members of this community as anything, we do ask people to be generous. Instead of one can, bring two everything that is donated at the show in Minot, as it is for every other show, stays local," LoVecchio said.
CP's freight work in North Dakota is increasing and expected to increase even more in the future.
"We can do this community service because of all the other work we're doing moving interstate freight," LoVecchio said.
After its stop in Carpio, the train will continue into southern Saskatchwan for three more shows on Dec. 17 where it will end its schedule this year.