A 13-year-old Chicago boy had only one request for Santa this year: He wanted “safety.” Malik Bryant, who lives in the Englewood section of Chicago, sent out the letter as part of Michelle DiGiacomo’s Direct Effect Charities.
“All I ask for is for safety. I just want to be safe,” Malik’s letter read.
Every year DiGiacomo collects letters from Chicago kids, but this year, she said, Malik’s letter stood out from the rest.
“When I saw that one, my heart leaped out of my chest,” she said. “What are you going to give a child who asks for safety?”
According to NBC Chicago, DiGiacomo added the letter to her organization’s newsletter, and it was then noticed by Spencer Tweedy, son of singer Jeff Tweedy.
Tweedy posted the boy’s letter on Twitter, and it immediately went viral:
On top of going viral, it also reached the hands of the president. DiGiacomo passed the letter on to Rep. Michael Quigley (D-Ill.), whose staff put the letter into the president’s hands.
“My staff and I thought, ‘Let’s see if we can get the White House to respond,’” Quigley said. “They are very busy at this time of year.”
As part of the Letters to Santa program, Malik received a Wii game and a new computer. Malik’s mother said her son needed things to entertain him inside the house because it was too dangerous for him to play outside.
On top of receiving the electronics for Christmas, Malik also received a response from President Barack Obama.
“I want to offer you a few words of encouragement,” the letter read, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Each day, I strive to ensure communities like yours are safe places to dream, discover, and grow. Please know your security is a priority for me in everything I do as president. If you dare to be bold and creative, work hard every day, and care for others, I’m confident you can achieve anything you imagine. I wish you and your family the very best for the coming year, and I will be rooting for you.”
DiGiacomo said her goal now is to find Malik a new home where he can be safe.