When it was announced that the Holiday Train wouldn't stop in Sturtevant in 2011, South Shore Fire Chief William Bouma knew he had to help.
The has been an annual event that features a full-size locomotive and freight cars wrapped in thousands of lights to raise awareness and donations for the Racine County Food Bank. For ten years, CP Rail has sponsored the festivities, providing a friendly, community event that packed a powerful punch for the Food Bank. The evening always included live entertainment and a visit from Santa to help draw hundreds of citizens and raised thousands - in pounds of food and money - for the Food Bank.
And while the Train will be missed this year, there will be a party to help the Racine County Food Bank. The - Holiday Food Drive is set for 7 to 8 pm, Thurs., Dec. 15 at Mount Pleasant Village Hall.
Bouma called Mount Pleasant Village President Carolyn Milkie and asked if she thought they could pull together something to help fill the void.
"The Food Bank helps a lot of people and they need help, especially around the holidays," he said.
Milkie thought it was a good idea and asked me if putting together an event was something in which I'd like to get involved. She said Logan Martin, community development coordinator, was already on board, and the more the merrier. Of course I joined in and quickly recruited Sturtevant Trustee Linda Busha who has an enormous amount of experience in putting together grass-roots community events (have you been to the Sturtevant 4th of July fireworks?).
"Well, I thought that since Patch is dedicated to Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant, you'd be a good fit," she told me.
We all got together and quickly divvied up tasks. Martin was going to address signage and banners and sponsors for hot chocolate; Busha is using her contacts to try and get a local band to play at the party; Milkie found and is donating a great, biogradable product so kids can make ornaments for the village's holiday tree; Bouma is tying up performances by the Case High School choir and/or pep band and arranging for the Case Key Club to supervise and organize the activity table where kids can make their ornaments; and I am handling a lot of the public relations to try and get the word out.
But of course a holiday party isn't really a party unless Santa is part of the fun. So we have that jolliest of elves arriving with blaring sirens and flashing lights atop a South Shore fire truck! He'll join in the fun by unloading his pack and handing out goodies for the kids.
Dan Taivalkoski, executive director for the Racine County Food Bank, said he is grateful for any effort to help.
"We appreciate every dollar, every pound of food our friends give us to help others," he said. "The Holiday Train really pulled people together and I hope this does, too."
Will you join us for this Holiday Food Drive to help our neighbors? We hope so. See you there!
Note: Food Bank donation barrels will be at all South Shore fire stations and at both Village Halls starting Dec. 2. Please call me at (262) 664-3775 if you are in a local band willing to donate your time and talent to play this event.