Roma third-grader Amelia Alvarez, after asking for a dog, wrote about one main wish she has in her letter to Santa Claus this year: to help the homeless.
“I wish that people are nice every (day) to the homeless people,” Amelia, who attends Delia G. Garcia Elementary in Roma, wrote. “I very wish that people can help the homeless people, to give them food and clothing and water and a home to live in, and I wish that everyone was happy not sad.”
She reassured Santa that she had been good this year by helping her mom clean the house, and wished that people were more kind and generous to those without a home.
“I wish that people can gave homeless people their old stuff that they don’t wear like old clothing or water or food or an old home that they don’t live in anymore,” she wrote.
Amelia isn’t alone in this desire for her community.
Last week, Festiva collected these letters to Santa from the elementary school. Besides requests for game consoles and puppies, most kids from Amelia’s grade level used their wishes to help the homeless, like Idaly.
After asking Santa to save the animals in the Amazon, Idaly asked him to provide shelter and food for those who don’t have it.
“…Help people without homes and survive so one day they have a home and have food to stay OK during cold winter days,” she wrote.
Clarissa Garza had the same wish.
“I am not asking for stuff this year. I will like if you would please give homeless people a home and people that do not have food please give them food,” Clarissa wrote.
School counselor Elizabeth Guerra said that she did not expect for a majority of her students to write about providing for the homeless, since they haven’t discussed that issue in school recently. In fact, Guerra said her only involvement was helping students with their spelling and encouraging them to think about others.
“I just told them, ‘What about asking Santa for something for the world?’” she said. “I did not specify what, I just taught them that sometimes, it is not always about us.”
“I don’t know why they focused on the homeless, because we don’t really see much homelessness here.”
According to a Texas Homeless Network report, “because of the Valley’s cultural make up, homelessness tends to function differently in this area than other parts of Texas.”
Since families’ bonds are strong in the community, local homelessness is portrayed as doubling up — when relatives or friends provide shelter to those confronted with homelessness.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as of January 2018, there were about 25,310 people experiencing homelessness on any given day. And, according to the U.S. Department of Education, during the 2016-17 school year, it was estimated that about 115,676 public school students experienced homelessness.
Third-grader Mylet Rodriguez wrote, “I would also tell you that I would love it for you to help our world help homeless people, animals, and more things in this world.”
Guerra attributed the student’s compassion to the new social and emotional empathy lessons that have been integrated into the school’s curriculum this year.
“We have been teaching them about how others feel, and what it means to feel for someone else,” Guerra said. “Our curriculum talks about empathy, getting along with others. We talk about feelings and emotions.”
Guerra added that the kids are exposed to selfless acts from their families, noting that one student’s grandfather often visits the school with a truck-load of groceries to donate; another’s father is involved in a local Knights of Columbus organization, a nationwide Catholic charity that focuses on serving the needy.
“ Those are the backgrounds of those kids, their families,” Guerra said. “They see the selfless deeds that their families do and are a part of it.
“There are always things being given and things being done — activities being made to help others here.”
Guerra is proud of the compassion her students have shown, and wishes they continue to nurture it.
“I hope that this generosity will empower them to be really good people inside,” she said. “My students are intelligent, and will be great in whatever field they go to. But I hope that wherever they end up, that they are good people inside, and that it’ll show. Their little hearts will glow when they are older.
“I am proud of them, and I know I will be proud of them when they grow up.”
To find a local organization that shelters those facing homelessness, visit HomelessShelterDirectory.org.
Students’ letters were edited for spelling.