These 9 Snowball Express send-off photos will tug at your heartstrings


By J.G. Noll

Every year, Gold Star families pack up their children and take a journey on the Snowball Express to Dallas. While their trips begin at different points across the country, their send-offs are joyful and patriotic.  The Snowball Express is a non-profit committed to providing happy holiday memories for the children of fallen service members. Begun in 2006, it has ferried thousands of children and their families to a long weekend full of excitement, surprises, and new memories.

1. A Pennsylvanian Gold Star family gets a picture with Santa before embarking on their journey.

Photo:DVIDS, Sgt. Christopher Bigelow

2. Santa and Mrs. Claus thank service members who volunteered their time for the Snowball Express in Chicago.

Photo: DVIDS, Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

3. A little boy boards the Snowball Express amid applause and high-fives.

Photo: DVIDS, Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam Austin

4. Santa (a veteran himself) bids farewell to children in Norfolk.

Photo: DVIDS, Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam Austin/Released)

5. Last year, over 1,500 Gold Star families were able to take the Snowball Express.

Photo: DVIDS

6. Volunteers and donors are always welcome.

Photo: DVIDS, Maj. Randy Stillinger

7. Santa speaks to the daughter of a fallen service member.

Photo: DVIDS, Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

8. Santa watches as the Snowball Express begins it’s preparations for take-off.

Photo: DVIDS, Staff Sgt. Carrie A Castillo

9. Civilians and service members come together to help make the send-off a memorable one.

Photo: DVIDS, Staff Sgt. Carrie A Castillo