On December 13, 2017, first-grade teacher Ruth Espiricueta asked her students to write letters for Santa requesting one thing they wanted and one thing they needed.
This seemed like a fun light-hearted assignment where Espiricueta could get some insight into her students, learning about all of the exciting, expensive, and silly things they wanted for Christmas.
Then the teacher read one girl’s letter to Santa and started melting.
“I have [been] good this day. This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a blancet. [blanket],” the letter said.
The simple requests tore at Espiricueta’s heartstrings.
“I never expected for students to ask for things we usually take for granted,” the Texas-based teacher told ABC News. “I was heartbroken because no one should ever go hungry or be cold on winter nights.”
Espiricueta asked the little girl about her letter to Santa the next day. The girl explained that she wanted a ball, instead of a doll, so that both she and her brother could play with it. She also explained that she wanted eggs for food.
“I had no idea she was going through hard times being that she is always at school with a big smile,” Espiricueta said. “Her act of unselfishness made me realize that I needed to share this with others.”
According to Espiricueta, that girl wasn’t the only one whose letter asked for basic necessities.
“Unfortunately, there are other students that as part of their needs they included food, towels, blankets, pillows, bed, clothes, shoes, and a stove,” she explained. “Some of my students were not even excited about Christmas because they know that their parents cannot afford to buy a Christmas tree or gifts for them.”
This makes sense given that about 22.4 percent of children in Texas live in poverty.
Espiricueta ended up sharing a photo of her student’s letter to Facebook on Wednesday, in the hope that she would get people to help students and their families in need.
When people saw the post they immediately offered to donate to the little girls as well as others within the student body.
After seeing the letter, Diana Cervantes-Smith, principal at Monte Cristo Elementary School, started a blanket drive. Her goal was to acquire 724 blankets, one for each student. So far, the drive has received 616.
Espiricueta is glad that her post has inspired so many people and that the little girl will get what she wished for. The little girl is pleased too.
“She is happy her friends will also be receiving a blanket to stay warm,” said Espiricueta.
These blankets go a long way towards making kids feel warm on the outside, but just knowing that these kids are being taken care of makes us feel warm on the inside.