For the second straight year, U.S. Sugar activated its locomotive — the Sugar Express — to partner with Toys for Tots and the U.S. Marine Corps to deliver toys to families across Central and South Florida.
The train, which takes on the “Santa Express” moniker for the holidays, helped deliver more than 2,000 toys across Glades, Highlands, Hendry, Martin and Palm Beach counties. That’s more than double the output during last year’s effort, which was the first for the organizations.
“This is our second year operating the Santa Express and we couldn’t be happier delivering these gifts to our friends and neighbors,” said Scott Ogle, operations manager for Sugar Express. “What a joy it was to see the smiles on the faces of so many local children and their parents.”
U.S. Sugar used the Santa Express to help Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver gifts to kids in Belle Glade, Clewiston, Moore Haven and Lake Placid. The train ran its route this past weekend as Christmas quickly closes in.
“Thanks to the generosity of the people of U.S. Sugar, hundreds of local children will know the joy of Christmas and receive gifts this year,” said Nardina Johnson, co-chair of the Hendry County Toys for Tots. “We are extremely grateful for all of their support and for always being so involved in our community.”
U.S. Sugar has worked with Toys for Tots in the past. The train is a relatively new edition for the toy giveaway, as the company finished restoring its century-old steam locomotive in 2020 by partnering with FMW Solutions.
U.S. Sugar purchased the train in 1952. It was originally launched in 1920 to travel on the Florida East Coast Railway and was used in 2020 — 100 years later — to bring a harvest to a U.S. Sugar mill. In October, U.S. Sugar also used the locomotive to help bring in its 90th annual sugarcane harvest.