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'Tis the Season...

for celebrations, decorations, giving back and making merry. Public transportation systems across the country are decking out their buses and railcars; spearheading toy, coat and food drives for people in need; providing free rides; and giving back to their communities in dozens of other ways. Here are a few examples.

For the sixth year, Metra commuter rail in Chicago provided one of its trains to be wrapped in a festive design and used for the annual Operation North Pole charity event for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families on board the train, traveling to a visit with Santa at the North Pole and back to a holiday party. Operation North Pole sponsors the wrap each year as its gift to families across the region. Metra also invited the public to stand along the Union Pacific Northwest Line route and cheer the children as the train passed.

Employees of Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, organized and packed gifts, gift cards and hygiene kits for delivery to homeless high school students through a partnership with Washington Kids in Transition and Volunteers of America. Business partners contributed items to the hygiene kits and new backpacks to hold the gifts, which were delivered to school counselors for distribution.

The Sacramento Regional Transit District is spreading holiday cheer through Jan. 2 by offering free rides on its 40-foot Holiday Bus, which operates on a different route each day. Bus operators will accept cash donations and checks in the farebox, to benefit Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California.
Denver's Regional Transportation District and its contractors shared the spirit of the season local service organizations in the metropolitan area as a part of the agency’s 16th annual Operation Give-a-Gift event., giving more than 2,400 employee-donated gifts to clients of the Denver Inner City Parish and the Care 4 Colorado Toy Drive for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.

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