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Toys for Tots Train

Mrs. Claus hugs Raelismarie Rodriguez as Santa Claus waves to other children on the platform of the Amtrak station in Fort Edward during a 2017 Toys For Tots event. Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. John Faso and Rep. Paul Tonko have written a letter trying to persuade Amtrak not to cancel the train.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three members of Congress — Elise Stefanik, Paul Tonko and John Faso — have sent a bipartisan letter to Amtrak in an attempt to revive the Toys for Tots holiday train that hands out donated toys and seasonal essentials.

On Aug. 3, Amtrak notified the Marine Corps Toys for Tots that its train service will not be available this season, because of recent guideline changes. The ride benefits more than 40,000 children and has made stops in Saratoga Springs, Fort Edward, Whitehall, Port Henry and Plattsburgh.

Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam, joined with Republicans Stefanik, from Willsboro, and Faso, from Kinderhook, in urging restoration of the special trip.

“I think it’s phenomenal that they (the members of Congress) stood behind us and supported us like they always have,” Roman said. “… Hopefully that partnership can continue.”

The lawmakers’ letter was written to Richard Anderson, president and co-CEO of Amtrak.

“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,” the letter said. “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.”

Roman also expressed his gratitude for the years of support Amtrak has given, saying its employees are “not only partners, but our friends and family.”

On Oct. 1 this year, the Toys for Tots will have its kickoff as it sends out donation boxes.

If Amtrak does not reconsider, however, Roman doesn’t know the Plan B.

“No, not just yet,” he said. “Again, we are very grateful for everything they’ve done for us.”

The Post-Star reached out to Amtrak but did not receive a comment on the letter.

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Andrew David Kuczkowski is the education reporter. Andrew can be reached at 518-742-3354. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ByKuczkowski.

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