Our Story

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Santa Clause Project Since 1996

How We Started:

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Michael Wright has been serving sick and injured children in Sacramento County for nearly 22 years.  During the 1995 Holiday season, Detective Michael Wright and Detective Steve Gralian (dressed as Santa) visited Gralian’s sick daughter at Kaiser Hospital.  After seeing how much Santa’s visit lifted her spirits, and those of the other children in the hospital, Wright and Gralian decided to return to the hospital the following year to hand out gifts and candy.

In 1996, Deputy Mike Wright (Mr Clause )created the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department The Santa Clause Project along with his wife (Mrs. Claus) and their family worked together with Kaiser Hospital staff members, delivering Christmas cheer and gifts to children with long-term and terminal illnesses in the hospital. Kaiser recognized that Santa’s hospital visits had such a positive impact on the sick children that it was important for Santa to visit the sick children in their homes.

In 1998, child life specialist Debra Padberg asked The Santa Claus Project if it would visit the home of Jonathan an 11 year old boy that had a long-term illnesses but were no longer staying in the hospital. We purchased and delivered (as Santa, his elves and a deputy) specially requested items to the family and they appeared overwhelmed.  The response from the family was so overwhelming that Debra Padberg (Kaiser’ child life specialist) asked if we could provide the Santa visit each year to a needy family, we gratefully accepted and Santa, Mrs Claus, elves and deputies now visit the homes of two to four families each year.

What We Do

The incredible Kaiser Hospital staff determines which families would benefit the most from a visit from Santa when a child is diagnosed with a long term and terminal illnesses with special needs. The Santa Claus Project then contacts the families and a wish list for the parents, siblings and the patient are established. The Santa Claus Project has provided almost everything you can think of over the years including a stove (installation included), washer and dryer, beds, dressers, kitchen appliances, kitchen utensils and gaming systems and even a family trip to Disneyland for a family of five.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Santa Claus Project now operates on a year-round basis. During the year we are occasionally contacted by Kaiser with specific requests for individual patients and if we have the money or resources we provide Kaiser with the requested items. In addition The Santa Claus Project purchases and receives donations from local businesses and individuals of gift certificates and gift cards for gas, coffee houses, restaurants, toy stores etc. The Santa Claus Project then donates the gift cards and certificates to the Child Life Specialists at Kaiser to give to some of the families that are routinely in and out of the hospital with their child. The gift cards and certificates are to give to the families to help ease some of the financial burden associated with multiple trips to the hospital.

During the month of December (including the days after Christmas) the Sheriff’s Department patrol deputies, support staff and others come across families that have suffered some kind of tragedy that has resulted in a difficult situation. They come across burglaries and vandalism where all gifts are destroyed or stolen, families living in hotels or cars with nothing for the kids, single mothers and their kid(s) removed from an abusive home and placed with friends or somewhere else and have nothing for the kids etc.,. When deputies, county personnel and others contact The Santa Claus Project for assistance with these situations, we always find a way to provide Christmas Stockings, board games, toys, gift cards and clothing (when available) for these families. We provide these items to on-duty deputies to deliver to the needy families.

The Sheriff’s Department is proud to have such a giving project representing the department in it’s effort to spread Christmas joy to the families of children affected by long-term and terminal illnesses as well as other struggling individuals and families.

Partnering Together

The Santa Claus Project uses donated funds to purchase gifts specifically requested to address the needs of families and children identified through Kaiser, WEAVE, and other local organizations.  The Sheriff’s Toy Project also assists The Santa Claus Project with toys and stocking stuffers. Deputies and volunteers start preparing and wrapping hundreds of toys, gifts, candy bags and putting together items to be stuffed into hundreds of Christmas stockings that will be delivered in the coming weeks.

The Santa Claus Project also works with other organizations such as 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, City of Refuge  – An organization helping women (with and without children) in Sacramento escape sexual exploitation and Rise Above – An organization the works with young adults that have recently moved out of the foster program and are now homeless and are looking for help to get their life together. The different organizations contact us each year and identify individuals and some families that are struggling due to circumstances and/or have moved out on their own and need help with basic necessities such as dishes, utensils, bedding, work type clothing and other everyday items.

You Can Help

Help us make Christmas special for families in need by donating today.