Clewiston, FL – Today, volunteers from U.S. Sugar, joined by Santa and Mrs. Claus, members of the United States Marine Corps and local representatives from Toys for Tots, delivered presents to the children of the Glades farming communities by the historic steam engine, Sugar Express. Becoming the Santa Express for the day, the train’s holiday journey was focused on highlighting the support organizations such as Toys for Tots, which serves thousands of less fortunate families across South Florida. The Belle Glade Boys and Girls Club also received a delivery of toys.
“Giving back to our communities during the holiday season is especially important, particularly when many families are experiencing difficulties related to the pandemic and the economic downturn across many industries,” said Community Relations Manager Brannan Thomas. “Our farmers have been blessed to be able continue farming since the pandemic began, so in addition to growing food for American families, helping our neighbors in whatever way we can, is also part of what rural farming communities do to take care of each other.”
Members of the community and representatives from the nonprofits were on hand to welcome the Sugar Express as it steamed into town with U.S. Marines and Santa Claus on board to deliver toys. The steam engine made stops in Moore Haven, Clewiston, Belle Glade and Port Mayaca.
“This year has been trying in more ways than one,” said Joseph Hosick, Coordinator for Toys for Tots in Hendry County. “Moments like this remind us to find joy in the midst of that and share it with one another as the people of U.S. Sugar have shared with us.”
Bikes, fishing poles, dolls and bilingual books were among the hundreds of toys delivered to each community for the organizations to later distribute as part of their annual Christmas gift distributions. Instead of a sleigh full of toys, Saturday, Santa hauled toys in a custom painted Christmas-red boxcar #1225. At a safe, social distance, the public admired the century-old-train and dozens of children dropped off their letters to Santa (letters will be forwarded to the North Pole).
“People are stressed and unsure how they will put gifts under the Christmas tree this year,” said Rachel Terlizzi, Director of Community Impact for United Way in Martin County. “U.S. Sugar’s very generous donation of toys for our community eases that worry.”
Families in need of gifts this holiday season are encouraged to contact their local chapter of Toys for Tots. If you are interested in providing an unwrapped present, please visit Toys for Tots online.https://www.toysfortots.org/