On a frosty December day, in the rural reaches of the west Twin Cities metro, a Canadian Pacific train lumbers down the track kicking up a snow squall.
It almost seems as if winter itself is in tow.
Within earshot of the train track, which parallels Highway 55, Loram's world
headquarters is perched in Medina.
Inside, they make equipment, and in-turn use it, to keep North America's rails in tip-top shape ---including that neighboring rail line.
And in December, that line needs to stay open.
Loram employee Willy Kluck knows how important that line is this time of year. And when he's not working on hydraulic assemblies, Kluck as one co-worker puts it, is "the bucket-man."
"All I do is just paint the buckets and put the tops back on every year," says Kluck.
But those green buckets are special. They are donation buckets, that await an annual polar express of sorts that will soon chug down
that west metro track outside Loram.
"It's a train full of lights. They got people singing, and everything like that on it,"
It's the Canadian Pacific holiday train.
Standing in a Loram hallway in front of a row of pictures of past holiday train visits, Chief Financial Officer Don Cherrey describes the event as "magical."
Loram has joined in the giving for several years now, as the train tows inspiration into the community.
"Trains are used to hauling things away. They don't haul any of the donations or the food donations away. So it's a great cause, and the food shelves could sure use it," reflects Cherrey.
Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train first rolled out in 1999. This year, it will cross several states including Minnesota, encouraging people to give food and money to local food banks.
Standing next to rows of food, Hanover Area Food Shelf Director Helen Skutley notes, "Well sometimes we have 20 families, 22 families, in one day."
She says northwest metro holiday needs are up nearly one-third.
Skutley says holiday train donations will carry the load into next year.
"Cause I think we have enough to go through December, and then we'll be using the train food as our January, February," says Skutley.
On Thursday afternoon, December 13, 4:15 p.m., the holiday train is scheduled to pull into the west metro suburb of Loretto.
From her restaurant parking lot, Heidi Rosati points and says, "It comes from the east." The train will stop right in front, and Rosati recalls 3,000 people met the train last year.
"Proof that in a small town you stop a train, they will come and they will give abundantly to the least of our brothers. And that's what Christmas is all about," says Rosati.
That afternoon, Willy Kluck's buckets will turn green inside. "Yea, for the Hanover food shelf," reflects Kluck.
Even Loram's grown-up employees can't wait to see the train.
"When it comes through, it's lit up like there's no tomorrow," says Dan Lawrence, shop superintendent.
But the holiday train will no doubt leave with some of tomorrow's local needs met.
One final note: CLICK HERE for a copy of the Holiday Train schedule.
(Copyright 2007 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)