Man turns electric train hobby into a way to cheer underprivileged children 

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A charity car show and family fun event at summer’s end will help ensure a brighter holiday season for some area families.

Operation Christmas Train Set Foundation is dedicated to improving Christmases for children from low-income or underprivileged backgrounds by providing them with a model train set and other gifts during the holiday.

The foundation is hosting its first Charity Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show and Toy Drive 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 17 at First Moore Baptist Church, 301 NE 27th St., in Moore. The event is open to the public.

Dustin Fisher, founder and CEO of the organization, said many large car and motorcycle clubs have committed to the event. The registration fee for entering the car and bike show is $15 or a toy donation for the foundation’s gift drive. Fisher said all guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the event for the drive.

Visitors will find a variety of family fun options — including bouncy castles, dunk tanks and pictures with Santa — in the church parking lot.

Live music will be played throughout the day, and several food trucks will be nearby. Fisher said participating food trucks have agreed to donate a percentage of proceeds to the foundation.

A number of auction items and gift baskets, including Kansas City Royals tickets, Remington Park passes, restaurant packages and more, will be available.

Fisher was a child in 1987 when a couple from the church his family attended gifted him his first electric train set for Christmas. The gift came at a time when his family was facing tough financial times. Fisher said he played with the set until he was a teenager.

“Going back to how someone helped my parents for Christmas, it was totally the birth of the mission of what I do with this organization,” he said. “That first train set I got is the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing today.”

He got back into the model train hobby as an adult. Two years ago, while he was between jobs, he considered selling his trains on eBay, but he eventually decided to turn his hobby into an opportunity to help other children in the same way a couple helped him decades ago.

There’s a special joy in giving kids at least one day of the year to look forward to, the founder said. The foundation also hands out other toys. Some children are too young to enjoy an electric train set.

Fisher said the charity is often as much a benefit for the parents as it is the children. It can be hard for some families to live up to cultural and media images of what a good Christmas is supposed to look like.

“You know in that time [parents] are stressing out about whether they’re going to be able to buy something for their kids or not,” Fisher said.

It is the satisfaction of spreading joy to local children and families that compels him.

“For them to not know where Christmas is coming from and then just to see the joy on their face when Christmas shows up — it’s great,” he said.

Operation Christmas is active year-round. It often has fundraisers throughout the year at area restaurants and works with local charities to donate toys to children in families who have lost their homes in fires or tornadoes.

Visit operationchristmastrainset.org for more information.

Print headline: Chugging along, Operation Christmas Train Set uses a fundraiser to help raise spirits this holiday season.

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