All aboard for train show fundraiser for Open Door

The Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold will sponsor an event to benefit the Open Door Food Pantry, Freehold.

According to Carmen Rivello, of Freehold Township, the Knob Hill golf course clubhouse, Route 33, Manalapan, will host a train show exhibit on Feb. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rivello thanked the golf course operators for providing space for the fundraiser.

Rivello, a charter member of the Sunrise Optimist Club for more than 20 years, said more than 100 antique toy trains from the 1890s to the 1950s will be on display. Engines, cars, stations, tunnels, signals and various accessories will also be a part of the exhibit.

Operating layouts from manufacturers such as Lionel; American Flyer; Marx, Ives, Carlisle and Finch; Dorfan; and Winner will also be on display.

In addition to the display of trains and accessories, a silent auction will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Toy train collector Bob Gassaway, of Colts Neck, is donating a 1940 Lionel train set that features a steam locomotive with metal cars and a 4-foot-by-4-foot layout.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” Rivello said. “After all, everyone knows that guys are just all big kids. There will be a lot of traveling back in time with everyone talking about their own childhood train sets. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of great stories.”

In addition to Gassaway’s collection, which will be featured on the auction block, JoeMania, a toy train collector, will have various collections on exhibit for guests to enjoy.

Mania, of Freehold Township, has been collecting trains since he was 9, according to his wife, Jo Anne.

According to Rivello, the toy train fundraising idea came from Mania, whose wife contributes a great deal to Open Door. Jo Anne Mania also works with Rivello in his insurance agency, Carmen Rivello Allstate, Freehold Township.

That link put them all together and the results are a fundraising event that will provide food for the hungry and a day of fun for all who attend.

Admission for the Feb. 17 train exhibit at Knob Hill is free, but guests are asked to bring a food donation or to make a monetary donation. For additional information call (732) 462-3710.