2023 Toys For Tots

The Toys for Tots Operation Toy Train made its great return to the Sparta Train Station on Saturday, Dec. 9. Those who attended dropped off new unwrapped toys for families in need as their entry “ticket” to enjoy the festivities during this heartwarming yearly toy donation tradition.

Operation Toy Train is the non-profit locomotive that collects toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation, with these gifts distributed to children within the region. More than 6,000 toys have been loaded onto this unique train at the Sparta Train Station since Operation Toy Train and Santa first made the station an official stop in 2016.

There were fun things happening from the day’s start to its finish. Free holiday crafts, games like the Snowman Snowball Toss, model train displays, and robotics and ice carving demonstrations were just a few. There were photo ops with holiday characters, photo stand-ins, and Santa after he arrived at the station. The Touch-A-Truck interactive display wowed kids of all ages, with monster trucks, heavy equipment, emergency vehicles, a Unimog, and other great trucks to explore. Food trucks and baked goods for purchase rounded out the day.

The greatly anticipated toy collection happened that day at 4 p.m., when Santa and his elves glided into the station on the train, then visited with and posed for pictures with the children who were there. After the fun in Sparta, Santa boarded the train again for his eventual return to the North Pole, to get the toys he collected at the Sparta Train Station — and his many other stops — ready for their delivery on Christmas Day.

All of us at the Sparta Train Station thank everyone who was a part of the 2023 toy donation event. We can’t wait to see you again in 2024!