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Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train for 2020

By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train for 2020
2016 Canadian Pacific Holiday Train by WC Photography.

UNITED COUNTIES of SD&G, Ontario –

Yet another popular Christmas season event has been cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, which has passed through Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry each November and typically stops in Finch for a brief concert, is moving to the online world. But that does not mean its yearly fundraising will disappear. The company announced that it will still donate to all food banks that the company normally supports with the train, including Community Food Share which operates in Dundas County and North Stormont.

“COVID-19  has created many challenges for communities across our network and has  only increased the need at local food banks and food shelves,” said company president and CEO Keith Creel. “It is our honour to  continue to donate to communities across our network this year, even if  the train itself will not run. The spirit of the Holiday Train program  and the Christmas spirit will carry on this year through our virtual  concert.”

CP is planning a virtual concert instead of a physical concert at each of the stops the train makes. The company said the program will draw attention to food insecurity issues in communities. Concert details have not been announced yet.

“We’re really relieved,” Jim Wilson, chair of CFS. “It’s a very substantial input of cash during one of our busiest times of the year.” Wilson explained that the CP donation usually amounts to between $4,000 and $5,000 each year, plus what is raised in monetary and food donations at the whistle stop in Finch.

“It’s something we look forward to each year,” he said adding that the only thing missing will be the in-person event donations.

Wilson said that CFS is looking at fundraising options to make up for the loss of the whistle stop this year. On the CP donation, Wilson said he expected there would be some form of cancellation because of the pandemic, but he is really happy that the company is supporting food banks.

“It’s a really meaningful donation,” Wilson said.

While the train has been washed out for 2020, the company is planning to return to the rails in 2021. “We will have the Holiday Train rolling down the tracks again as soon as it’s safe to do so,” Creel said.

Since the train first began in 2001, nearly $18 million has been raised for food banks across the CP network.

This story was originally written for and published in The Morrisburg Leader.

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