Volunteers will assemble 7,500 care packages for U.S. troops this month on behalf of CSX and national nonprofit Operation Gratitude. Also, Union Pacific (UP) Manager-Train Operations Nick Sahinen earns the railroad’s 2023 Chairman’s Environmental Award.
Volunteers on June 17 will assemble 7,500 care packages for U.S. troops stationed on three continents and on vessels throughout the Pacific and Atlantic for CSX and Operation Gratitude in honor of “Christmas in July,” a military tradition that started in 1944 as a way for Americans to support deployed service members outside of the crowded shipping timeframe surrounding year-end holidays.
The event, to be hosted by CSX in Jacksonville, Fla., is part of the railroad’s national “Pride in Service” community investment initiative, which it said, “focuses on serving and honoring first responders, military members, and their families, when and where they need it.”
The packages will be filled with snacks, personal care and hygiene products, handmade items, and handwritten letters from Americans across the country.
“At CSX, we care deeply about bridging community divides, creating connections and delivering resources to service members in times of need,” CSX Vice President Corporate Communications Bryan Tucker said. “Together, as ONE CSX, our employees will assemble thousands of care packages for deployed troops to serve as a reminder that grateful civilians back home value their sacrifices.”
“I look forward to standing side-by-side on the assembly line with CSX and Operation Gratitude volunteers, several of whom will be making care packages for the units of their own deployed loved ones,” said Carolyn Blashek, Founder and interim CEO of Operation Gratitude. “We are honored for the opportunity to show both the troops and their family members how much we, and all Americans, appreciate their service, whether deployed overseas or anxiously waiting at home.”
UP on June 13 reported recognizing Nick Sahinen of Baytown, Tex., with its 2023 Chairman’s Environmental Award for his “strong commitment to environmental stewardship in both his personal and professional pursuits.” The annual award was established in 1994.
“Using advanced visualization tools, Sahinen actively tracks, identifies and shuts down idling engines left running or needing maintenance,” according to the Class I railroad’s online blog, Inside Track. “These actions help reduce air emissions while effectively educating those around him on environmental stewardship—as well as contributing to Union Pacific’s efforts to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG emissions on a well-to-wheel basis from locomotive operations 26% by 2030 from a 2018 base year.”
The railroad said that much of Sahinen’s work occurs through the lens of beekeeping, a hobby that enables him to “educate others about the environment and even save some track-dwelling swarms” (see picture, right).
“It was nice being recognized,” Sahinen told Inside Track. “Everyone breathes this air, and I owe it to the people working here and the neighboring communities to do my part where I can.”
According to UP there were six finalists for the Chairman’s Environmental Award. They include:
- Lou Oborny Jr., Manager-Mechanical Engineering
- Jeff Repass, Water Services Foreperson
- John Machain, Water Services Foreperson
- Joseph Langley, Machine Operator
- Lee Koehler, Manager-Maintenance of Way Equipment Operations
- Robert Jacks, Manager-Locomotive Maintenance
Sahinen was also nominated for the Association of American Railroads’ 2023 John H. Chafee Award, which was named in honor of the late Rhode Island senator, a strong advocate for environmental causes and the eco-friendly benefits of rail transportation, according to the association. John Barnard, Director-Fueling Operations for BNSF, was this year’s honoree.