SBHS students gather volunteer at The Polar Express.PHOTO: Erin Randall Mullins

Bringing Joy with the Polar Express

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Tuesday December 23, 2014

As the frigid winter winds swirl with holiday cheer, delicious latkes, and traditions, happiness runs through our veins and the child inside of everyone comes out to play. One way that students at South Burlington High School are spreading joy during the holidays is by volunteering at The Polar Express, an exciting journey to meet Santa.

Through a club called CCS (Coalition for Community Service) at the high school students can volunteer to help at the event. The adventure starts with a ride on a Christmas decorated train that ends at the Main Street Landing Train Station in Burlington, There, passengers are greeted by volunteers dressed as elves who welcome them to the North Pole. Nevil Desai (junior), observes, “It’s a time when children can feel the magic of Christmas, where Santa and his little helpers are in real life, and the stories and traditions they’ve heard about appear in real life.” Many of these student volunteers are hoping to share their cheerful selves to give hundreds of children and families the special gift of meeting Santa.

The Polar Express allows around 40 CCS members to spread their cheer and change children’s lives around the community. The event is “a fun and creative way of bringing the North Pole to Burlington,” says junior Alaina Knowles. Sophomore Nicholas Goodman, continues, “I love making the children laugh.” Kally Sample, junior, concurs, “It makes the children really happy and gives them a sense of what Christmas is all about.”

As well as being an amazing event for children, it is also a family event. Maureen Genzlinger, who plays Mrs. Claus, states, “We’ve been doing this for ten years and it has become a family affair now, where mothers, fathers, children, and grandchildren are all involved. It brings a wonderful community together at a very special time of year. To see children’s faces when they see Santa and the whole train ride is incredible. When I give the children the bell, their faces light up and every single one rings it on their way out. You can see their faces beaming, “Yes!” It really is Christmas.”

Students get a huge rush of euphoria when volunteering as well. Grace Monteiro, junior, states, “There is just something about helping these children in the community that makes everyone smile. Every time I put on the Santa hat and give a kid a high five, it makes me smile, too.” The Polar Express is a truly special event not only for children and families that ride the train, but also for the volunteers and everyone else involved as well.

SOURCE: Chloe Grant. SBHS CDC Correspondent