The Marion County Tribune

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MC community bands together to spread holiday cheer

Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 3:09 pm


In a heartwarming display of community spirit, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) and local police departments, led by Deputy Brandon Price as Santa, orchestrated a memorable Santa Train event on December 23.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the MCSD and the dedicated organizer of the Santa Train, Crystal Nugent, collaborated to bring this to fruition. This has been Nugent’s personal mission to bring joy to families in need during Christmas. Taking charge of the Santa Train upon joining the Sheriff’s Department, she, along with over 50 officers, volunteers tirelessly to deliver presents to children along the train route. This tradition, predating Nugent, has thrived under her leadership, expanding its reach and community impact. Nugent goes beyond the ordinary route, ensuring even those in remote areas receive Santa’s visit. On December 23, the Santa Train, led by Nugent and Santa, brought holiday cheer and gifts to Marion County families, a testament to the enduring spirit of generosity and community support.

During one stop, a touching moment unfolded when a bystander expressed gratitude for the initiative, and that she, too, had been a recipient of such kindness in her youth. With tears in her eyes, she recounted the impact of Christmas presents being delivered in a big box, courtesy of Santa at the time, Sheriff Haskew. The event, a longtime project, continues to leave lasting, positive impressions on the community.

The MCSD extends heartfelt thanks to the generous citizens and businesses of Marion County whose donations made it possible to provide Christmas joy to numerous families. The success of the Santa Train underscores the strength of community bonds in Marion County, exemplifying the true spirit of togetherness.

Reflecting on the experience, the organizers emphasized the importance of believing in the power of community initiatives. The dedicated group of volunteers and elves worked tirelessly to ensure that all children aboard the Santa Train received their gifts from Santa. The event’s success is a testament to the community’s commitment to spreading joy during the holiday season. Plans are already underway for an even more spectacular Santa Train event in 2024, highlighting the community’s enduring spirit of giving.

-Photo credits: Allison Richards and Crystal Nugent

The Marion Tribune – January 4, 2024