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 86 boxes with donated gifts, for nearly 900 tow boat crew members. 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 crew may open the gifts on Christmas day.
Pictured (left to right) are: TraShaun Mays, Nikolay Roof, Harli Morris, Jamarion Bumphus, Alex English, Jadean Breidenbach, Tayler Hilton, Carrie Houser, Noah Hollar, Natalie Parmley, Thomas Harsha, Melissa Alvarado, Chaplain Baldridge, Trystan Perkins, Ethen Hinson, Alyssa Pierson, and James Littlemyer. Cadets not pictured, who assisted with Christmas on the River, are Haylee Patterson, Javeon Wilson, Cheyenne Pangman, Aaliyah Woods, and Alijah Frazier.