TACK Santas show their hearts, provide meals for clients

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By Robert Villanueva

If Santa Claus represents the spirit of giving selflessly during the Christmas season, Santa drives a TACK bus.
For the third year, employees of Transit Authority of Central Kentucky collected food items for clients they transport in their vehicles.
The employees were not required to do this.
TACK assistant director of transportation George LaFollette recalled how, in previous years, drivers were given calendars or pens for Christmas. They began to think it would be better to provide assistance to some of their clients.
“You get close to them,” LaFollette said of the passengers.
TACK clients are senior citizens and Medicaid-eligible passengers in eight counties. The TACK buses use pre-set routes and provide transportation for medical appointments, grocery trips, educational programs and other social services.
“We transport a lot of the same people,” LaFollette said.
Clients tend to tell drivers all about their lives, he said. Each of the 35 drivers chooses a client to receive the donation.
“I just let them pick whoever they want,” LaFollette said.
LaFollette’s wife, Jane, who works at Michael’s, donated holiday bags from the retailer to hold the food supplies.
Driver Glenda Risen said each bag contains items such as green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, fruit and tuna.
“We just wanted to help the clients that we had that we knew really needed it,” Risen said.
Some recipients, she said, might not be in permanent need but going through hard times right now.
Drivers began collecting the cans of food right before Thanksgiving and added items to a cardboard box in the TACK office. The items later were sorted out so that each recipient gets comparable meals.
The food donations have been delivered bit by bit in the days leading up to Christmas. They will all be delivered by Christmas, Risen said.
Drivers expressed a desire to promote the spirit of Christmas.
“It’s about giving,” said Sid Scott, assistant supervisor.
“And knowing they’ll get a good meal at least for one day,” maintenance coordinator Gary Armstrong said.
Risen said clients are grateful for the gesture.
“Some of them have cried and thanked us,” Risen said.
LaFollette said the employee project was kept to a low profile in previous years because the employees are not doing it for the recognition.
The actions, though, might motivate others, he said. And in that sense, TACK employees hope to pass along the spirit of the season.
“If you let people know about it, maybe they’ll start doing it,” LaFollette said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.