The ‘Santa Train’ Makes Christmas Happen For Low-Income Appalachian Families

Beautiful traditions of giving are part of what makes the holiday season so special. Forget the Christmas lights, the sugar cookies and the stockings. At the end of the day, the true holiday magic comes from everyday generosity and the loving actions of a united community.

That's what the Santa Train is all about. The tradition started over 70 years ago, and for people in need who live in the Appalachia mountains, it is one of the most memorable and important parts of the holiday season. The Santa Train travels over 100 miles from Shelby, Kentucky, to Kingsport, Tennessee. Santa Claus makes several stops along the way, handing out toys, clothing and other holiday gifts to low-income families. All told, the Santa Train distributes more than 15 tons of gifts to members of these communities, adults and kiddos alike.

Businesses across the country participate in the Santa Train, ensuring that Santa Claus has plenty of gifts to hand out to everyone. And, in recent years, entertainers have even gotten in on the act! Country music star Darryl Worley (famous for hit-singles like "Awful, Beautiful Life" and "I Miss My Friend") has performed along the route.

But good music and fun times are not all the Santa Train has to offer. As revealed by these beautiful photos, at its heart, the Santa Train is about providing dignity to the lives of people who might not otherwise be able to afford basic necessities like coats and blankets to ward off the cold (let alone Christmas presents for their kids).

Some of these Santa Train workers drive thousands of miles in their free time in order to help participate in this meaningful event. Talk about heartwarming!

As adults, we know that Santa Claus is just a myth, but stories like this prove that even though Santa isn't real, love is. And that's even better.