The event, locally coordinated by the Rev. Kempton Baldridge, chaplain at SCI, provides gifts boxes for the crews of towboats that will be underway on the rivers on Christmas Day. The cadets decorated and packed 149 boxes with donated gifts. According to Chaplain Baldridge, the donations of hand-knitted items and other items from around the world and across the United States arrived after people learned of the project by word of mouth at their church or civic group.
There are approximately 4,000 towboats on the inland rivers system, along with 18 United States Coast Guard buoy tenders. Chaplain Baldridge said the Christmas on the River project will provide holiday gift packages to as many of the tow boat crews as possible.
The Paducah Tilghman NJROTC cadets helped pack boxes, decorating them and creating hand-made Christmas cards for each mariner. The boxes will be delivered to the towboats before they leave port so that the gifts may be opened by the crew on Christmas day.
Photo caption: Pictured (left to right) are: Alyssa Pierson, Larry Kirby, Chaplain Kempton Baldridge, Nikolai Roof, Adrain English, Morelia Alvarado, Noah Hollar, Carrie Houser, Heather Barrows, ShaAnna Futrell, Sean Hall, and Censier Conner. Not pictured are Jovan Lopez, Armando Lopez, Steven Robson, Alexzander English and Amysha Wade.