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Online Users Are Rallying Behind A First Grader Who Wrote the Most Tearjerking Response

The tradition of children writing a letter to Santa Claus for Christmas, for most of us, brings back memories of beloved toys, bicycles, and even family pets. In a recent post on Facebook, a teacher reminds us that not everyone has wish lists that are so untroubled.

Ruth Espiricueta posted the letter written by a student in her class who asked Santa for food and blankets for Christmas.

Ruth Espiricueta / Facebook

The first grade teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Edinburg, Texas, had given her students a lesson about wanting versus needing. After the lesson she instructed her students to write a letter to Santa Claus asking for something that fulfilled both. After class, Espircueta reviewed the letters and was struck by one written by a 7-year-old girl in her class. In her her note, the student wrote: “I have [been] good this day. This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a blanket.”

According to People, the little girl’s mother, Maria Isabel Cortez, told KRGV that her daughter had requested the ball as a gift for her brother.

“She wrote the card thinking about her brother. She said she wanted the ball to play with him, food to have food at the house, and a blanket because the house is too cold,” Cortez said.

According to the 2016 U.S. Census, nearly twenty-two percent of children in Texas live in poverty.

The teacher’s student wasn’t alone in her request for similar basic needs.

“Unfortunately, there are other students that as part of their needs they included food, towels, blankets, pillows, bed, clothes, shoes, and a stove,” Espiricueta told ABC News. “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.”

Saddened to see a student of hers go hungry, Espiricueta shared the letter to her Facebook page last week in hopes that others would help her students and their families. With the post came an outpour of donation offers addressed to the little girl and the students at her school.

In response to the letter, the school started a donation drive.

Thank you to everyone that has been donating to our school. Our students will be able to stay warm during these cold…

Posted by Ruth Espiricueta on Friday, December 15, 2017

They had a goal of collecting 724 blankets to distribute to students. In a message posted to her Facebook account over the weekend the school teacher thanked donators for helping the school exceed their initial goal.


ReadCongress Will Be Confronted With Stories From DACA Recipients Every Day Until The Holiday Break Because Of This Jumbotron

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This Is How Cuba Is Developing Its Own COVID Vaccine When It Can Barely Get Daily Necessities To The Island

Things That Matter

This Is How Cuba Is Developing Its Own COVID Vaccine When It Can Barely Get Daily Necessities To The Island

Cuba has long been a biotech juggernaut in the Caribbean. When health crises emerge around the globe or there’s a medical disaster, Cuba is often one of the first nation’s to send medical staff and emergency workers to help. Its medical team has become part of the country’s diplomacy.

But the Coronavirus pandemic has brought economic devastation to a country already facing severe economic issues. Many on the island struggle to even find daily necessities like Tylenol or Band-Aids yet the Cuban government is just steps away from developing its own vaccine against COVID-19. How is this possible?

Cuban researches are making their own Coronavirus vaccine and seeing great results.

Currently on the island, there are five vaccine candidates in development, with two already in late-stage trials. Cuban officials say they’re developing cheap and easy-to-store serums. They are able to last at room temperature for weeks, and in long-term storage as high as 46.4 degrees, potentially making them a viable option for low-income, tropical countries that have been pushed aside by bigger, wealthier nations in the international race for coronavirus vaccines.

If they’re successful and developing and rolling out the vaccine, Cuba – a country where the average scientific researcher earns about $250 a month — could be among the first nations in the world to reach herd immunity, putting it in a position to lure vaccine tourists and to export surpluses of what officials claim could reach 100 million doses by year’s end.

If they pull this off, it would be a big win for the communist government.

Achieving success would be an against-the-odds feat of medical science and a public relations win for the isolated country of 11 million people. Cuba was just added back to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in the final days of the Trump administration.

It could also make Cuba the pharmacist for nations lumped by Washington into the so-called “Axis of Evil.” Countries like Iran and Venezuela have already inked vaccine deals with Havana. Iran has even agreed to host a Phase 3 trial of one of Cuba’s most promising candidates — Soberana 2 — as part of a technology transfer agreement that could see millions of doses manufactured in Iran.

“We have great confidence in Cuban medical science and biotechnology,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told The Washington Post this week. “It will not only be fundamental for Venezuela, but for the Americas. It will be the true solution for our people.”

So how is Cuba managing to pull this off despite all the challenges they face?

Cuba is an authoritarian, one-party state with strict controls on everything from free speech and political activism to social media and LGBTQ rights. But the island has always invested heavily in education and healthcare, which has led to an unusually sophisticated biotechnology industry for a small developing country, with at least 31 research companies and 62 factories with over 20,000 workers.

Should Cuba’s vaccines succeed, its researchers will have overcome even more hurdles than their peers in Western labs — including shortages of equipment, spare parts and other supplies, due in part to U.S. sanctions

A successful vaccine could also become a vital new source of revenue for Cuba, which has been suffering a brutal economic crisis that has citizens waiting hours in line to buy scarce food, soap and toothpaste. The economy worsened under Trump-era sanctions that tightened the long-standing U.S. economic embargo of Cuba by curbing remittances, scaling back U.S. flights, ending cruise ship passenger traffic and further complicating Cuba’s access to the global financial system. President Biden has called for a possible return to Obama-era policies, but he has made no such moves yet.

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Socially Distanced Navidad? Here Are the Best Family Games to Play Over Zoom

Culture

Socially Distanced Navidad? Here Are the Best Family Games to Play Over Zoom

Photo: Getty Images

This Christmas, unfortunately, is going to be tough for a lot of people. With the coronavirus pandemic still waging on, many of us have had to make the tough decision to stay home for the holidays. That means no traveling out of town or visiting extended family like we have in years past.

If you come from a family that likes to get into the competitive spirit and play games over the holidays, then giving up that tradition might feel too disappointing. Luckily, we can all rely on technology to keep us connected in these trying times when we’re forced to be apart.

We’ve compiled a list of Zoom-friendly games that you can play with your family over the holidays and beyond. Take a peak at our fun picks below!

1. Charades

This one’s an easy one. All you have to do is create a Zoom link, send it out to family members and pick a topic to act out. If you’re having trouble thinking of a word, trying using a Charades word generator.

2. Card Games

Who says a little old pandemic can keep us from playing cards with our loved ones? For many of us, playing cards with our family is as steadfast a holiday tradition as exchanging gifts is. Log on to https://playingcards.io/ to create a custom game room to share with your family.

3. Bingo

Think about it: Bingo is the perfect game to play over Zoom. Websites like https://myfreebingocards.com/virtual-bingo have virtual bingo games you can play for free with up to 30 participants!

4. Heads Up!

Heads Up! is a game in which a player has to guess which word/topic is on their phone screen by the clues their team members are giving them. In order to make the most of this game, players at each Zoom location will have to download the Heads Up! app on their phone. And after that, it’s smooth sailing.

5. All Bad Cards (aka Cards Against Humanity)

If you’re the type of family that likes to push the envelope over a game of Cards Against Humanity, consider logging onto https://allbad.cards/. All you have to do is generate a party room and send the link out to the members of your “party”. Then, you’re ready to go!

6. Pictionary

Pictionary is the kind of game that Zoom was practically invented for. In order to play this game, you’ll have to fire up Zoom’s whiteboard tool and share your screen with all of the participating players. Again, if you can’t think of a topic, get some help with a Pictionary random word generator.

7. Trivial Pursuit

You’ll have to own this classic board game in order to play over Zoom, but if you do, setting it up and playing is super easy. In order to make this game user-friendly for all participants, make sure there’s someone in your location that can play on the same team as someone in a different Zoom location. That way, all the players can be sure that there’s no cheating involved.

8. Outburst

If you’re a fan of Family Feud, then Outburst is probably right up your alley. This game requires that each player brainstorm lists off of a given topic (i.e. Top Ten Christmas songs). Unfortunately, there is no virtual or online version of the game, but instead, team members can take turns coming up with topics and having other players brainstorm lists.

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