Updated: 12/09/2013 10:53 PM
Created: 12/09/2013 10:50 PM KSTP.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- The party was in full swing Monday night as the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returned to Austin for the first time in two years.
A few hundred people gathered to enjoy the lights and music, and kids even got a visit from St. Nick.
But behind the crowds, the community came together in a different way as people dropped off food and donations for the Salvation Army.
“This helps out a lot,” said Lt. David Amick of the Austin Salvation Army. “This helps fill our food shelf. We were a little bit low, but we're going to get right back up there again. It's awesome."
And for families all across Southern Minnesota, the donations couldn't have come at a better time.
“At this time of year people are having to make choices, whether to buy groceries, pay bills, or go to the doctor,” Lt. Amick said. “This helps alleviate at least one choice they have to make.”
And despite wind chills around 20 degrees below zero, Lt. Amick said the turnout and community support was tremendous.
“This is kind of what I expected,” Lt. Amick said smiling. “The northerners are kind of a tough breed, so they get out there in the cold no matter how cold it is."
In addition to hosting the event, Canadian Pacific also donated a thousand dollars to the Austin Salvation Army food shelf. But they are still in need, so if you would like to donate, you can drop off food or monetary donations at the following locations:
Albert Lea – 302 Court St., Albert Lea, MN 56007
Austin – 409 First Ave. NE, Austin, MN 55912
Mason City - 747 Village Green Dr. SW, Mason City, IA 50401
Rochester – 20 NE First Ave., Rochester, MN 55906