The Colchester-Milton Rotary Club will once again be supporting the Vermont National Guard this Christmas Season with our project called Operation Polar Express #2.

We did Operation Polar Express #1 last year when there was a large contingent of Vermont National Guard deployed overseas.

While this year the number deployed is much less there were over 130 families and children on the wait list that we did not have enough tickets for last year. We are only able to purchase 235 tickets @ $20 each which is one train's total capacity. With many of the Guard home now, it is easy to forget about them and assume all is well. It is not, in fact there is an 18% unemployment rate in the Guard that have returned and getting their family life back to predeployment status quo is not without its problems. After meeting with the members of the Guard it was determined that there was a strong need to run this program again to serve those on last year's wait list and those currently deployed.

What is Polar Express? 
The ride is held in many cities and recreates what has become a classic Christmas story, Polar Express, written in 1985 and then made into a movie in 2004. The story evolves around a young child at the age when doubts about Santa occur. He, along with many other similar children is waved aboard a train that magically appears and takes them all to the North Pole to meet with Santa and become believers. The story has many twists and turns along the way and as mentioned earlier has become a Christmas classic watched and read over and over again by young children.

What happens on the ride? 
The ride follows closely the story line and includes a 20 minute train ride with refreshments (like in the story) and then their arrival at the North Pole (Union Station) where they are greeted by Santa's elves, read the story of Polar Express, meet Santa Claus, and all receive a sleigh bell. Why the sleigh bell? Read the story to find out. Many of the children riding the Burlington train are dressed in their pajamas as are the children in the story.

Availability of ride tickets?
The Burlington Polar Express is organized and run by volunteers of the Vermont Children's Trust Foundation (VTC) as a fundraiser in support of their efforts promoting the well-being of children and families in Vermont by raising funds for community-based prevention programs.  They run a total of 8 excursions of about 1 hr and 15 minutes each over a two day period. Each trip is limited to 235 passengers. The limited capacity makes for the tickets, at $20 each, very difficult to obtain.  Tickets are always sold out in October, many of them through a lottery. To help with VCT's fundraising for this event; the media sometimes offers tickets to the highest bidder. Last year four tickets went for $350!  

How many tickets have been obtained?
Through the graciousness of the VTC they have agreed to reserve the entire 235 seating capacity for the Rotary Club of Colchester-Milton to coordinate making these tickets available at no cost to the families of the Vermont armed services personnel.  

How will funds be raised to cover the ticket costs?
The Rotary Club of Colchester-Milton will seek donations from their members, other Rotary clubs, and the general public to cover the $4,000+ cost for this program. Monies donated to this event provide a twofold benefit. First they support our military services families. Secondly since the Burlington Polar Express is a fundraiser for the Vermont Children's Trust Foundation, the monies also support the great work of that organization. Checks should be made payable to The Rotary Club of Colchester -Milton Charitable Foundation (a 501-C) and mailed to PO Box 82, Colchester, VT 05446. You can also donate using  PayPal by clicking here.

The Rotary Club of Colchester-Milton will be most appreciative of any donation you care to make to help us make this a magical day for all. Contributions are tax deductible.