Updated: 12/16/10 5:45 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – A Chicago child’s Christmas wish for her mom has been heard from coast to coast. A 6th grade girl wrote a letter to Santa last week, and asked for a coat for her mother.
When people heard her story, coats, a lot of them, as well as other gifts started showing up at the school.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports
“I want to get her a present because she don’t celebrate ‘cause she don’t have a lot of money, so this came from my heart…a coat,” said Latrice Christian tearfully, making her wish last week.
On Thursday, her wish came true.
All Latrice Christian, from Daley Academy on the South Side, wanted for Christmas was a coat for her mom.
It was her only wish, but her tearful plea drew dozens of gifts and donations from across the country. And calls to her school haven’t stopped.
Rhonda Hoskins, the principal at Daley Academy, says after people heard about Latrice’s letter, the phone started ringing.
“And they said to me, ‘I don’t have much or I’m not working, but I want to send something,'” said Hoskins.
Latrice Christian, and her two sisters and parents, met some of the people who opened their wallets for the family.
The Christians recently lost their apartment. They’re staying with friends.
Three girls and their mother, who works at a Popeye’s restaurant, but doesn’t make enough to make the rent, or even to get a heavy coat.
“A coat can lead to a lot of things,” said Latrice. “It will keep you warm and you can go on the El. My letter was a simple letter about my mama. All I said is I wanted a coat. And that’s like the special thing that hit everybody.”
Coats started showing up at her school. And other gifts, a lot of them, including cash and checks.
It’s still hard for Latrice to believe how deeply she touched people with her words.
“People actually cried over that,” she said.
Cindy was among those moved to give. She came to the school to meet the family today.
“She had the opportunity to have a gift for herself and she was so unselfish,” said Cindy. “She’s just a special little girl and she touched my heart.”
Minister Alice Yao from Life Center Church of God in Christ, and her friends, also came.
“That was so touching, so touching, and I’m still overwhelmed by it,” Yao said.
Larry Garnett was equally overwhelmed.
“It took me back to when I was a small kid,” said Garnett. “I was crying because other kids were able to go places and do things, and my family was so poor, we couldn’t.”
Thanks to Garnett and many like him, that won’t be the case for Latrice and her family this year.
Naneitta Shaw is Latrice’s mother. She was brought to tears when she saw all the gifts on a table at the school.
“No, I wasn’t expecting this,” said Shaw. “It just shows so many people out there still care about people. I’m so happy, I can’t explain. I appreciate everything everybody done.”
“Some people just out there that’s really good. They’re going to get blessed also for blessing us,” said Latrice’s twin sister, Lanece.
Latrice’s father is proud of his little girl.
“She decides to give her wish up for her mom. It’s pretty cool,” he said.
As for Latrice, she was beaming after opening a card containing a $100 bill.
“Yeah, I’m happy,” said Latrice.
Latrice and her family received so many gifts, that they’re going to donate some of them to charity to help other families.
Michelle DiGiacomo runs a “Letters to Santa” program for Direct Effect Charities, that started all this generosity.
“There’s many unselfish children out there. And going through the letters every year, it’s incredible,” she said.
More than 9,000 letters have been answered; 800 remain. Most are students in need of simple Christmas gifts. To make their wishes come true, click here.
Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser and CBS 2’s Mai Martinez contributed to this report.