the north face size chart Elves ride rails across Valley to fill Toys for Tots’ shelves
NORTHUMBERLAND Wearing Santa hats and elf scarves, and their vehicles decorated with reindeer and Christmas trees, members of the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) gathered on the cold morning of Saturday for the 13th year of their Toys for Tots fundraiser.
Event coordinator Larry Maynard, of White Deer Township, said members were traveling in 30 cars from Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, New York and even British Columbia, Canada, from Northumberland to Danville to Rupert, Bloomsburg and Berwick in Columbia County. Along they way, they collected donations of toys and money for less fortunate families.
This will be the 13th year that the North Shore Railroad has hosted the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) for the event. NARCOA is a national organization that restores railcars and charters railroads around the country for excursions, according to Maynard. Railroads formerly used the railcars, or speeders, for track inspection and maintenance, but most railroads now use trucks equipped with rail wheels, and the railcars were sold off to individuals.
Many of the members agreed, including Dr. James Gallagher, of Danville, who has been riding for 20 years and participating in the Toys for Tots run most years.
“It’s a way to have fun with the cars and running on the railroad, and it has the added benefit of helping kids along the way,” Gallagher said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Gallagher, who has volunteered in the Toys for Tots warehouse in Winfield, said it’s one of the best charities, in his opinion.
Clyde Smith, of Lock Haven,
said he first rode with Maynard in 2007, but liked the event so much he bought his own railcar the next year and started doing it himself.
“I like the people, the camaraderie, the railroad atmosphere and the scenery,” he said. “It’s peaceful. You can look at the scenery because you’re only going 20 mph. And I got grandkids, so I know all about toys.”
Brad Kehrer and his wife, Amy, of Montoursville, said they sold their motorcycles to buy the railcars.
“It’s the neatest sport out there,” he said.
“It’s our favorite,” she said.
The North Shore Railroad employees also have been collecting toys and the railroad has made monetary donations to Toys for Tots, a project of the Marine Corps League, according to North Shore President Jeb Stotter
“This is fantastic,” Stotter said to the riders, “that you take your Saturday and your weekend and do this for the community.”
State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R 108, who each year judges her favorite decorated car, told the riders that her mentor, the former state representative and late Rep. Merle Phillips, had a special place in his heart for Toys for Tots.
“For me, this is spectacular,” she said.
Dean Beaver, the local Toys for Tots coordinator, said last year the group raised $3,000 and enough toys for 3,300 children. It’s one of his favorite fundraisers,