The Hayride to Christmas begin in 1981 through the vision of the late Deborah Matory, along with several of her close friends including Johnnie Mae Durant, Ethel Delaney Lee and the late Barbara Atkinson, to help families in need during the Christmas holiday.
Mrs. Matory was the founder and first leader for the group. Along with close family, neighbors, colleagues and friends she collected baskets of food to deliver to needy families with school age children in the District of Columbia. Two schools in DC were chosen to help distribute the baskets of food and plans were made to drop the food off.
As an added inducement, the families helping out met with the families in need and shared refreshments, prayers and Christmas carols.
The "Hayriders" as they were later affectionately referred to then rode down to the national mall (Ellipse) to view the National and state Christmas trees and share holiday cheer with each other. The tradition has continued ever since with people returning year after year and new people joining in to help. Many families and friends have made the Hayride a part of their holiday celebration. Many of the kids have grown up and some have brought their kids to help out.
Board of Directors
- Robert Branson, Esquire
- Dr. Shaaron Towns
- Ms. Vanessa Murray
- Sumara Thompson-King, Esquire
- Tony Towns
Tony Towns took over leadership of the Hayride to Christmas after Ms. Matory became too ill to continue. He and the other members of his family eventually used their own home as the gathering place for the Hayriders. With the need growing larger and larger with families in need of a little help during the holidays, the Hayride has expanded and has been granted 501 (c) (3) status. The new tax status has made it easier to seek out corporate contributions. Tony also has added a Board of distinguished people to help him with the Hayride. The Board of Directors consists of Robert Branson, Esquire, Dr. Shaaron Towns, Ms. Vanessa Murray and Sumara Thompson-King, Esquire.
Today, the Hayride to Christmas serves baskets of food to 100 plus families at Cleveland Elementary School. Our goal is to provide baskets to even more families in need. Plans are in the works for further expansion to possibly providing food or other items to families during other holidays.