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Toys for Tots train picks up toys, delivers a gift to Port Jervis!

By Sharon E. Siegel

PORT JERVIS, NY - Yesterday was a great day for Port Jervis and the many children who will benefit in collection areas of the U.S. Marine Corps and Operation Toy Train.

Businesses, organizations, families, and individuals in the Port Jervis area added to the thousands of toys collected overall through these efforts -- efforts that help brighten the lives of underprivileged children during this special season of care and giving.

Toys for Tots last visit to Port Jervis by train was in 2018, when Bennett Levin’s vintage train journey allowed for a very brief stop. There was no Toys for Tots Port Jervis train stop in 2019, and no train at all in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. The train was back in operation this year, and added a special extended visit, collection, and delivery in Port Jervis.

After making stops along its route in New Jersey and in Montgomery, New York on Saturday, the vintage train and holiday collection force’s final of 25 stops was in Port Jervis – Sunday afternoon, December 12, 2021.

The public had been previously invited to donate new, unwrapped toys at various local collection points, or to deliver toys in person during Port’s historic downtown rail yard event. Many dozens did! Port’s toy collection added volumes to those previously collected along Toys for Tots’ 2021 route.

At Sunday’s event in Port Jervis were Santa and Mrs. Claus, their friendly elf helper, the Broome Street Traveling All Star Band’s festive holiday musicians, refreshments provided by the Outdoor Club of Port Jervis, city officials, and railroad workers who delighted everyone as they placed the historic Erie Railroad turntable in operation. A delegation of former Port Jervis railroad employees watched and reminisced alongside Port’s historic rail equipment and machinery as the turntable was brought to movement again.

Operation Toy Train, a non-profit organization, collects toys annually for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation. A delegation of Marines took part in Port’s Sunday event, where they assisted, enjoyed their local visit, and gratefully accept the many toys received from Tri-States donors.

Following its final stop of 2021, the historic railcar collection delivered to Port Jervis will be displayed in place of others that had been in the city since 2006, but were removed earlier this year. The current cars will become part of a Port Jervis Transportation History Center and museum to be constructed on the city’s historic Erie Railroad land.

The railcars will be stationed near the city’s still-operational vintage Erie Railroad turntable, a focal point. This turntable was first placed in operation in the mid-1800s (1854), shortly after Port’s first passenger trains began arriving in 1851. The city’s historic railyard and former railway buildings were constructed beginning with groundbreaking in 1838.

The holiday spirit of giving filled Port’s railyard with the hustle and bustle of life once occupied daily by those who earned their living there nearly two centuries ago. It was definitely an exciting day for Port Jervis!

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