December 30, 2015 Sacramento County, Ca. Retired Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Wright has been playing Santa for so long he just might be the real thing.
For over 20 years Sacramento County, Ca. Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Wright has been playing Santa Clause. It started when he was a young Deputy on Patrol and he went with his partner to visit his partners daughter who was hospitalized.
“I said why don’t I go with you. We will get some candy canes and hand them out to everybody,” remembered Wright. “And then the next year they asked if we come back.” He told ABC10 News.
Sometime after Kaiser hospital gave him a call “I think it was 1998 and they asked me if I could do a special trip to a home,” said an emotional Wright. “There was an 11-year-old boy named Johnathon. He was a cancer patient and this was going to be his last year. His parents wanted him to see Santa Claus one last time.”
The Santa Clause Project for Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department was born and the rest is history. Officially started in 1996 The Santa Clause Project has served children and families in the area ever since. “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.”
Deputy Wright along with his wife Marnice (who is Mrs. Clause) come in contact with about 30 families every year and average about 200 kids every year that they make he holiday a little bit more special for. Some of these children will never see another Christmas. Knowing that takes it’s toll emotionally on Deputy Wright.
While Deputy Wright has retired he continues to spread the Christmas cheer even though it has been a very difficult year for his own family. His wife Marnice
having been diagnosed with breast cancer this year and is undergoing treatment for her illness. However that didn’t stop the two from continuing their efforts to do good for others. Wright says that his wife would not want him to stop the holiday tradition and she continues to help.
Their workshop is their home, where they package the gifts and store them in their bedroom. Other Officers and community members along with local businesses donate time, money and gifts to make this event possible.
“You gotta keep busy, you gotta keep doing good stuff for people who need it,” Marnice Wright said. “There is somebody who is always worse off than you.”
“That’s is my wife,” said Michael. “She wouldn’t allow me to step out and say no just because of what she is going through. She has been my rock through this whole thing.”
Officer Wright starts his gift operation in November and delivers the Christmas cheer through the end of December sometimes after Christmas when they miss some children or find out about a child that they may have missed.