The Sheriff’s Santa Claus Project has been in existence since 1996. Deputy Michael Wright spends the holiday season as Santa Mike. Santa Mike visits homes of families with children with long-term illnesses, along with other identified families as determined by the staff of Kaiser Hospital and the Sheriff’s Department Child Abuse Bureau.
Kaiser recognized that Santa’s hospital visits had such a positive impact on the children, that they felt it was important for him to also visit these terminally ill children in their homes. Santa Mike graciously took on this task with the support of the Sheriff’s Department and Kaiser Hospitals, relying on his own resources and donations from the Sheriff’s Department, county employees, local businesses, and the Sacramento community.
The Sheriff’s Santa Claus Project operates on a year-round basis. However, the project does something extra special for local families with children receiving oncology or long-term illness treatments during the Christmas season. Santa and his elves personally visit with every child they encounter at Kaiser Hospital. They deliver hundreds of stockings stuffed full of goodies during the week of Christmas, and also visit emergency rooms and other areas of the hospital where children are admitted. Furthermore, they visit children housed in local domestic violence shelters.
Sheriff’s Deputies use donated funds to purchase gifts from local stores and gather toys donated to the Sheriff’s Toy Project. All gifts are wrapped and placed into hand-made Christmas stockings by deputies and volunteers of the Sheriff’s Toy Project.
The week before Christmas, Deputy Michael Wright dresses up as Santa Claus and delivers toys, clothing, and Christmas stockings to families that have been identified by Kaiser Hospital Child Life Specialists Tammy Woodruff and Traci Aoki. Santa Mike, accompanied by Mrs. Claus (his wife Marnice), several elves (his children and grandchildren), and many Sheriff’s Deputies, deliver toys, clothing, and Christmas stockings to these local families. They also deliver special “wish list” items, which may include household goods, and take photographs for the family with Santa and his elves.
Over the last several years the Santa Claus Project has expanded. It now includes W.E.A.V.E. - Women Escaping a Violent Environment, My Sisters House (a charity that also helps women escaping violent and oppressive environments), Student Reach (an organization that works with at-risk middle and high school students combating bullying, exploitation and poverty), and City of Refuge (an organization helping women (with and without children) in Sacramento escape sexual exploitation).
Santa and his elves will be delivering Christmas toys starting on December 1, 2017, and finishing December 31, 2017. The Santa Claus Project is a non-profit charity and all donations are tax-deductible. All proceeds go directly to the families and children the Santa Claus Project services. To donate or receive more information about the Santa Claus Project, please contact Detective Michael Wright via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sergeant Shaun Hampton