Amarillo, TX - Hundreds of military family members are celebrating the holiday early with BNSF's "Holiday Express" train ride.
Over 350 active military members and their families boarded a train for a memorable experience. BNSF Railway has been hosting this program for eight years. Every year, they travel through five states to provide their guests with a "Polar Express" experience.
Each train car is decorated and guests were served holiday treats like coco and cookies. They also had a chance to meet Santa.
This holiday experience is free for the passengers because it is completely funded by the BNSF Railway Foundation. Assistant Vice President of Community Affairs for BNSF, Andrew Johnsen, said their hope is to provide military families with a memorable holiday experience and thank them for their service.
He said the train is also a great way for the families to spend time together. "It's really an opportunity for these families to have some quality time together to kind of put the rest of the world aside and just spend some time together doing all the fun things and catching up and just enjoying time together as they get ready for the holidays," Johnsen said. Many families riding the train said they are thankful that they could share this experience together.
The train ride is not the only way the railway is helping military families, they also donate to charity. The BNSF Railway Foundation makes a donation at each stop during their trip. For their Amarillo stop, they donated to the National Guard. Over the last eight years the foundation has donated 1.5 million dollars to non-profit organizations that assist military families.