Thirteen-year-old Malik Bryant lives on Chicago's south side, in the high-crime Englewood neighborhood. In his letter to Santa this year, Malik has only one request: "All I ask for is for safety. I just wanna be safe."
His letter was written as part of an annual campaign run by Chicago non-profit DirectEffect Charities, which collects letters from Chicago public school students and coordinates with donors (or Santas) to grant their Christmas wishes. The charity's CEO, Michelle DiGiacomo, told the Chicago Sun-Times she was so moved by Malik's letter, she sent it along to U.S. Rep. Michael Quigley, who agreed to send the letter to White House.
Obama responded, writing the teen:
I want to offer you a few words of encouragement this holiday season.
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.
Malik did get presents, too: Donors gave him a new computer and Wii game for Christmas.
"I barely can't even go outside anymore, can't ride my bike, can't play ball, can't go play with my cousins, because you have to watch your back every 30 seconds," Malik told the Sun-Times. "I know the president's letter isn't going to like solve the safety reasons out here, and it's still going to be dangerous, but I'm excited the president of the United States wrote to me, and I can't wait to show it off."