Albuquerque Army veteran raises $1,500 for local high school teacher

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque Army veteran is making the season brighter, one teacher at a time. His name is Carlos Velazquez and he’s the founder of “Teachmas”, a jackpot of donated cash and prizes doled out to one lucky Albuquerque Public School teacher every year.

Velazquez says as a veteran, he gets thanked for his service all the time but noticed his kid’s teachers were never awarded the same type of gratitude. To change that, he began collecting donations of mostly cash and gift cards back in 2016.

“I think a lot of teachers don’t get enough love.”

Carlos Velazquez, Teachmas Founder

How does “Teachmas” work?

Four years later, “Teachmas” is still going strong, with more than $1,500 in cash and prizes raised for this year’s lucky winner, but which deserving teacher would get the prize?

To choose, Velazquez asked for nominations from the APS community, then drew the name lottery style. The winning nominee was Dusti Griffin, a math teacher at Cibola High School. Her name was thrown in the mix by one of her student’s mothers, Misty Stricker.

“Amazing people live in this city…good is happening everyday.”

Misty Stricker, Tanner’s Mom

Stricker says Griffin went above and beyond this semester to help her 15-year-old son Tanner, who has cancer. In the fall, tanner had surgery that caused him to miss more than two months of school, but Ms. Griffin stepped up to make sure he didn’t fall behind. She coordinated efforts with his other teachers, checked in on him at the hospital, and worked with his mom to keep him up to date on his schoolwork.

Tanner Recovers after surgery

On Friday, the “Teachmas” coordinators surprised Ms. Griffin during a teacher’s holiday luncheon at Cibola. Her prize included cash, gift cards, a special gift basket, and even a homemade ornament from a local artisan.

To learn more about how you can be a part of “Teachmas” visit the NM Loves Our Teachers Facebook page.

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