One student wished for a bag of chips…so he wouldn’t be hungry.

Ah, Christmas. For some of us, it really is the most wonderful time of year! But for so many others it can be a cruel reminder of what little they have and how there’s not enough to go around.

Whether we like it or not, Christmas is a holiday with two sides. On one end of the spectrum there’s chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and multiple trips to Home Sense for overpriced festive decor.

On the other end of the spectrum? Well Christmas “cheer” looks a little different.

For thousands of Las Vegas High School Students, waking up on Christmas morning would look really different — and no, it isn’t wasn’t because they’d have to trade snowmen for sandmen!

She Read Their Christmas Wishlist — And the Wishes Are Heartbreaking

woman carrying lots of gifts

Every year, Cheri Guy, an English teacher at Desert Pines High School, gladly participates in a school wide program called “Wishmas.”

“Wishmas” is exactly what it sounds like. A Christmas Wish List every student is welcome to add one item to. The only requirement? That the student share why that particular gift is important to them.

“We have a lot of kids who are in the foster system, we have a lot of kids who are living in poverty. These kids are facing enormous stress outside of the classroom,” she said.

When Ms. Guy — one of the teacher’s in charge of the Wishmas initiative — looked at the list for the first time, her students’ simple wishes broke her heart. Their reason for why they wanted these gifts, brought her to tears.

“One of the kids asked for a grocery store gift card.”

What’s even more devastating? This anonymous student wasn’t the only teen looking to secure his next meal.

One student asked for a Wing Stop gift card because “it will give me free food for the day.” Similarly, another student asked for a bag of Taki chips “so I wouldn’t get hungry.” One kid asked for peanut M&Ms. Another student wrote they wished for a pair of black slippers “so my feet won’t get cold.”

One Student Just Wanted a Physics Textbook — He Dreamed Of Becoming an Astrophysicist

“A few of the seniors are asking for a yearbook because they can’t afford it. One kid asked for help paying for their cap and gown for graduation,” Cheri Guy shared. “We have a student who asked for a textbook called Lectures on Physics because he wants to be an astrophysicist.” 

As they say, the list goes on and on — and with 3,000 students at Desert Pines High School? The list really goes on.

Certain students dreamed bigger than others — and it’s beautiful. Ms. Guy shared one teenager was shooting for the stars! Even though he knew it was unlikely, he wished for a guitar because he loved playing but couldn’t afford his own.

However, one kid dreamed bigger than all the rest. And his wish changed everything.

When Ms. Guy read one student’s wish, she couldn’t take it anymore.

“I wish for all the wishes to come true.”

First she broke down in tears. Then, she picked herself up and took action. She was going to give it her all, to make this wish come true.

To pull it all off, she’d need a Santa-size miracle. So she did the only thing she could think of — she shared her story on the internet. To her utter shock, this is what happened.

She Took to TikTok to Ask For Help — The Response Was Overwhelming

All it took was one TikTok clip and the anonymous heroes of the internet did the rest. Yes, good people exist and they’re closer than you think…sometimes it just takes a speech with heart and the click of a button!

After feeling completely helpless to meet this impossible challenge on her own, Ms. Guy took to TikTok (@attagirlguy) to share a 3 minute video of exactly what she was up against.

“I work in a school of over 3,000 kids. There’s no way I could do it all, right?”

In her emotional video, Ms. Guy’s passion is undeniable. This is a woman who has devoted her life to these children and after reading out just a handful of the thousands of simple Christmas wishes, she asked for others to join her in helping make them come true!

“Maybe spread this around. Maybe we could do something to try and make these things happen. Because there’s no way even all the teachers if we picked one student we couldn’t cover everything. There’s so many students and they don’t want a lot.”

The Donations Came Pouring In — She Received More Help Than She Ever Could Have Imagined

They may not have been elves in workshops, but hundreds of strangers showed up in the most unimaginable way possible. Within a matter of days, Ms. Guy had more gifts than she could carry — literally.

Amazon deliveries and handmade care packages were mailed in from all over the world! On one particular day Ms. Guy took six trips to the post office filling her car with all the gifts students were being sent.

How One Teacher Is Making a Difference

Ms. Guy is no stranger to the struggles that come with being a modern day educator.

There’s of course, the the abysmal pay; teachers starting salary is around $48,000 and it’s a hot topic in the USA. There is the total lack of resources; hundreds of teachers across the country have spoken out about how they are in constant need of supplies. One teacher even went viral for enlisting the help of her sorority sisters to buy glue sticks for her kids!

Ms. Guy in particular is fighting an uphill battle. She teaches in a specific program called “Jaguar Academy: within Desert Pines High School.” The students in Jaguar Academy are considered at risk youth who aren’t meeting academic or social expectations.

As always, for these neglected kids and students from low income homes, the poverty cycle (and the danger that comes with it) is almost impossible to get out of. Guy says some of her kids are “on probation for one tiny mistake.”

But the random acts of kindness from strangers has the power to change that narrative.

“One of the most incredible things about Wishmas is these kids are realizing that they are loved — and not just by the staff at school, but by strangers around the country (who) care about them and believe in them,” Guy says. 

There’s a sign hanging in Guy’s classroom that says “One Person Can Change a World.”

“It used to say, ‘One person can change the world,’ but I changed it to ‘a world,’ because it’s not about changing the whole world. That’s what overwhelms us,” she says. “But if you can just think about, ‘What can I do for one person?’ That’s changing a world — and if we could all do that? Just imagine what our society would turn into.”

One Person Can Change a World

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that “privilege” comes in many forms. Sure, privilege can look like Kim Kardashian flying around the world in private jets…but it can also look like having a roof over our head, a loving parent, and not stressing about where our next meal is coming from.

Reading the Christmas “wishes” of over 950 students at Desert Pines High School — it’s clear they don’t have these simple luxuries. We could all use a reminder that it’s better to give than to get and the best gift we can give ourselves is to give generously.

There’s still a few items left on Ms. Guy’s Amazon Wishlist! If this story inspired you, and you want to do your part, check out the link or see if there are any local initiatives that need your help this holiday season!

Donations are accepted until Dec. 15th, 2023.