Pay it 4ward: Teacher recognized for generosity to fire victims, firefighters

[anvplayer video=”5109449″ station=”998122″]

LAS VEGAS, N.M. – People have stepped up in big and small ways to help wildfire evacuees, including one woman who caught the attention of her colleagues.

Images of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire have pulled at the heartstrings of New Mexicans across the state, including those of Sarah Valdez – whose connection to Las Vegas runs deep. Friends recently helped Valdez raise money to buy lunch for more than 100 evacuees. Valdez and her kids went to the shelter with more than just food, they came with some much-needed smiles and handwritten cards from her son’s second-grade class.

“She’s just always doing kind things for other people,” said Tyra Murrieta, first-grade teacher at Joe Harris Elementary School.

The effort caught the attention of Murrieta, an elementary teacher in Rio Rancho.

“Sarah is giving, she’s loving, she’s caring, she has the biggest heart in the whole world and when she saw a need in the community she just stepped up to fill it,” said Murrieta. 

Murrieta’s classroom is down the hall from where some second-grade love went into those handmade cards.

“I love that she’s teaching her kid to pay it forward as well,” Murrieta said. 

So she wanted to do the same by Paying it 4ward with $400. 

“I just wanted to acknowledge your effort. I love that you wanted to Pay It 4ward to your community and how you helped out where you’re from. I love your caring heart, so along with KOB we wanted to help you pay It forward, said Murrieta. “New Mexico needs more people like you.”

“I appreciate that so much, this will be going back to the City of Las Vegas and surrounding areas,” said Valdez. 

She’s hearing firsthand how much they need it. Her mom and some extended family still live there.

“It’s been rough, it’s been rough,” Valdez said. 

Her first good deed has compelled her to do more.

“It just broke my heart. It broke my heart to see so many families sleeping on cots and displaced, and them not knowing what’s gonna happen,” said Valdez. 

And thanks to Murrieta, she will.

“I just think New Mexico needs more people like Sarah that are willing to step up and give back and fill a need in their community,” said Murrieta.