The non-profit organization raises money and collects new toy donations during the weeks leading up to the winter holidays then redistributes the presents to families in need.
Cowboy Santas co-founder Carol Brown said their goal for the organization was to help the people who really needed it. Brown was working at the Como Community Center when she and co-founder Leona Johnson came up with Cowboy Santas.
“We decided our families are really struggling at Christmas time and we needed to find a way to relieve some of that stress,” Brown said.
According to a Tarrant County poverty survey, 138,000 children in Fort Worth are living in poverty and Brown said she wanted to help those children have a happy holiday.
Brown said the community she grew up in heavily influenced her role in starting Cowboy Santas:
“I was fortunate because my mom and dad were working parents but I had friends and neighbors whose children couldn’t afford anything,” she said. “So as I grew up one of my main goals was to make sure that children who woke up on Christmas morning didn’t wake up without anything.”
The non-profit celebrates its 35th anniversary this holiday season and serves 10,000 Fort Worth children each year.
Cowboy Santas started in 1981 as part of the Fort Worth Social Services Office as a distributing organization for other charities with similar missions.
The charity decided to combine its efforts with Fort Worth Police and Fire Departments in 1996 which led to the creation of the name Cowboy Santas. Its toy drop off sites are located in police and fire departments across Fort Worth as well as on TCU’s campus.
Despite Cowboy Santas impact on Fort Worth, 128,000 children are still living below the poverty line during the holiday season.
Anyone who wants to donate money to Cowboy Santas can do so online. The organization is also having a toy drive at Globe Life Park on December 13th for anyone wanting to donate new toys.