When teacher Ruth Espiricueta asked her first-grade class to write letters to Santa Claus, she wasn’t expecting what would happen next.
One girl, Crystal Pachecho, 7, asked Santa only for food, a blanket and a ball for her brothers to play with.
Now their elementary school in rural Texas is being flooded with donated blankets from around the world.
“It all started with a discussion about our needs and wants,” Espiricueta told CNN. “We talked about needs and what we wanted to survive.”
Espiricueta teaches at Monte Cristo Elementary in Edinburg, Texas, some 30 miles north of the Mexico border.
“After the kids were gone for the day, I sat down to read the letters,” she said. And that’s when she noticed Crystal’s request.
“It just really broke my heart,” said Espiricueta, who was surprised that Crystal and her family had such needs. “She’s always so happy.”
The teacher posted the girl’s note on her Facebook page last week, not knowing what the reaction would be.
Then the school’s principal shared the Facebook post and started a blanket drive.
“We have 724 kids on our campus. How do you select a few to help?” said Principal Diane Smith.
Just in a few days, they surpassed their initial goal of 724 blankets. To date, the school has received about 900 blankets, and they are still coming in, said Romeo Cantu, a spokesman for the school district.
Most of the school district’s 30,000 students live in poverty, and “the majority of my students are in need like that,” Espiricueta said.
But for many of them, Christmas this year will be a little warmer. Blankets have come from as far away as New Zealand and Germany — a global response to a young girl’s simple letter to the North Pole.