Foundation helps make holidays merry, bright

By Sharon Adams

Slated for Saturday, Dec. 21, thousands of southern Dallas families will gather at the Fair Park Automobile Building for the 21st Annual Christmas in the Park, which helps meet great needs where thousands of families struggle every day to provide basic necessities. More than 44,000 people were served in 2018 with basic necessities like clothes, coats and food while others found toys, bikes and more to help make a child’s Christmas wish come true. 

Christmas in the Park helps meet the needs of thousands of families who struggle every day.
Photo courtesy of Dana Driensky

For some, the holiday season is not a time to rejoice, but a period met with hardship, heartache and disappointment. Sponsors, underwriters, volunteers and supporters of Christmas in the Park work every year to make Christmas dreams come true for these families. Everyone is welcome to join in!

Organized by the S.M. Wright Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization providing support and stability to inner-city underprivileged children and less fortunate families in the South Dallas/Fair Park community, Christmas in the Park is perhaps Dallas’ largest holiday charity event, which has grown from serving less than 200 underprivileged kids in 1998 to more than 44,000 residents in 2018. 

Joining host S.M. Wright II, co-founder, president and CEO of the S.M. Wright Foundation, will be his mother, co-founder Debra D. Wright; his brother, co-founder The Reverend Calvin Wright; Ray Washburne, president and chief executive officer of Charter Holdings, and his wife, Heather, honorary chairs; Nita and Cullum Clark, chairman of the board at the S.M. Wright Foundation; and their children, along with many of Dallas’ business and community leaders.

One of the highlights is the involvement of students from Highland Park High School. The S.M. Wright Foundation Club at HPHS was founded by Maddy McGuire and supported Coats for Kids at Christmas in the Park. After Maddy graduated, her sister Sophie took over. This year, Grace Jackson has taken on the leadership of the S.M. Wright Club at HPHS and along with other HPHS student volunteers, is focusing on shoes, beds and collecting gently used athletic clothes for the Clothes Closet at Christmas in the Park. Their financial contributions collected will be donated to the Beds for Kids program of the S.M. Wright Foundation. They will be helping on Dec. 21 by volunteering to help distribute shoes. The McGuire family continues to support Coats for Kids, which seeks donations of new warm coats all year long to give hope and happiness to kids in desperate need. Funds raised purchase new coats for kids through Burlington Coat Factory’s community program.  

The foundation also provides hunger relief, educational support, health, social service assistance and economic empowerment. The foundation’s goals are to move these families from a position of dependency to self-sufficiency and to restore stability to families and the community. For more information, visit the website at