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Tonko Leads Bipartisan Effort to Save Toys for Tots Holiday Train

“we sincerely hope that the tremendous good it does will not be lost this holiday season.”

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Washington, August 9, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTONCongressman Paul Tonko sent a letter to Amtrak today calling on the company to reconsider its decision to cancel the annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots train ahead of its 20th season. The company issued new guidelines for charter trains in March of this year and notified the Marine Corps last week that they plan to discontinue the Toys for Tots train as a result. Tonko was joined by Republican Reps. John Faso and Elise Stefanik in asking Amtrak to continue this charitable train service. 

The letter reads in part, “This holiday season would mark the 20th year of this longstanding and generous service. We have been deeply moved by the spirit of community and love for our children that are expressed through this program and we sincerely hope that the tremendous good it does will not be lost this holiday season.” Full text of the letter is included below.

New Guidelines for Amtrak Charter Trains as of March 28, 2018:

  • Charter Trains must operate on existing Amtrak routes;
  • Charter Trains must not be one-time trips;
  • Charter Trains proposing to use Amtrak resources such as equipment and crews are subject to the availability of those Amtrak resources without impact on regularly scheduled operations;
  • Charter Trains must generate sufficient financial benefit for Amtrak to justify the Amtrak resources and assets;
  • All Charter Train terms and conditions are subject to a final written agreement signed by Amtrak and the commercial charter customer.

Full Text of Letter:

August 9, 2018

Mr. Richard H. Anderson, President and CEO

National Passenger Rail Corporation

1 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. Richard Anderson,

We are writing to express great concern that Amtrak is planning to end its support for the annual Toys for Tots Train. This is a beloved and endearing resource that many of our region’s neediest families rely on. Discontinuing this train service will mean approximately 40,000 children and their families will not benefit from donated gifts and much needed winter hats and gloves. We implore you to reconsider.

We are aware that Amtrak has established a new policy for the operation of charter trains and believe it has every right to do so. However, ending this important holiday charter service will negatively affect the neediest in our communities and discontinue a positive charitable action that has brought great recognition to Amtrak’s reputation in the eyes of many. 

The benefit that the Toys for Tots charter brings to families in our region is immense. This program is about supporting our community and remembering people who are less fortunate during the holiday season. We ask you to consider the special circumstances involved here and act to preserve this unique and deeply valued Toys for Tots charter.

This holiday season would mark the 20th year of this longstanding and generous service. We have been deeply moved by the spirit of community and love for our children that are expressed through this program and we sincerely hope that the tremendous good it does will not be lost this holiday season.

Sincerely,

Paul D. Tonko

Elise Stefanik

John Faso

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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