EDINBURG – The State Board of Education (SBOE) on Friday honored Monte Cristo Elementary School first-grader Crystal Pacheco as this year’s recipient of the Student Heroes Award.

“I’m excited and happy,” said Crystal, shortly after receiving the award during a special ceremony in front of her teacher and classmates in the school’s library.

“Crystal was so willing to do for others and put others ahead of herself and that’s what this award is all about,” said Marisa Perez-Diaz, member of the State Board of Education, District 3, who presented the award to Crystal. “This award is about setting an example of what it is to be a giving person.”

The award recognizes Texas public school students who have demonstrated inspiring acts of kindness and compassion. One student from each of the 15 SBOE districts is recognized for this award.

“Crystal Pacheco exemplifies the type of students that we have at Edinburg CISD, and we are very proud of her and her family,” said ECISD Superintendent Dr. René Gutiérrez. “Back in December, her letter touched many people and helped to make a difference in a lot of children’s lives.”

In December, Crystal wrote a letter to Santa Claus, asking for a ball for her brothers, food for the family, and a blanket for a brother who had been hospitalized. Crystal’s teacher and principal shared her story on social media, which went viral on the Internet; at its highest point reaching more than 71 million people worldwide in a single day.

Crystal’s unselfish letter launched a blanket drive that ultimately raised more than 1,700 blankets, enough to provide two blankets to every child at her school.

“This award reminds us that a good and caring nature most represents our Texas children,” said Donna Bahorich, SBOE chair. “These award recipients saw a need and committed to bold action on behalf of others, often engaging their fellow classmates in the effort. They each in their own way have made a profound difference. Their schools and communities are better for their work.”