Some kids can really go over the top when they write their Christmas wish lists, prompting their parents to sit down and explain that not even Santa Claus can deliver a real live pony or a pet dragon. But 7-year-old Crystal Pacheco wrote a very different sort of letter to Santa.
In her heartbreaking letter, Crystal asked not for the hottest toys of the season, but simply for food, a blanket and a ball. The letter was a class assignment, and Crystal’s first-grade teacher, Ruth Espiricueta, shared it on Facebook.
Espiricueta posted Crystal’s sweet letter and wrote, “This makes me very sad. When your students ask for food, blankets, or a bed instead of toysAs a teacher it breaks my heart when I hear them ask for things that we sometimes take for granted. Hopefully I will be able to fulfill at least one of their Christmas wishes.”
Espiricueta teaches first grade at Monte Cristo Elementary in Edinburg, Texas, which is about 30 miles north of the Mexican border. In a comment on her Facebook post, she said that some of the students even asked for towels and water. After people began reading and sharing her post, they were moved to take action.
Principal Diana Cervantes-Smith started a blanket drive in hopes of collecting a new blanket for each of the school’s 724 pre-K through fifth grade students. As the story went viral, donations poured in from around the world. Cervantes-Smith announced on Dec. 18 that they would likely be able to send home not one but two blankets with each child.
Teachers and volunteers showed up to wrap blankets and other donations to pass out to the students, delighted to be a part of making the children’s holiday brighter. Romeo Cantu, the public information officer at the school, told TODAY that the school was planning to distribute the blankets to students on Dec. 20 at a party with Santa Claus.
“We’re excited,” he said. “This little girl is going to see just what her little voice can do.”
Cantu said that donations have continued to arrive at the school from all over the world.
“They have boxes and boxes of stuff,” Cantu told TODAY. “We don’t even know what’s in the boxes yet.”
The school’s initiative shows that small actions can make a big difference in the lives of others. In a later Facebook post, Espiricueta thanked people for pitching in to help her students:
“Thank you so much to all for caring for all students at Monte Cristo Elementary and making sure their needs are met,” she wrote. “Our amazing students make us amazing teachers. There is so much joy in my heart to see all the love and support towards our school from all over the world. Crystal has a huge smile on her face.”