A letter from a little boy in a domestic violence shelter asking Santa for a "very, very, very good dad" has attracted widespread attention and amassed donations for the shelter.
The heartbreaking letter was written by a 7-year-old boy living with his mother in an emergency shelter in Texas.
The boy's mother said she found the letter in his backpack a few weeks ago, according to SafeHaven of Tarrant County, the nonprofit organization that runs the shelter. The mission of the group, which has a shelter in Fort Worth and another in Arlington, is to end domestic violence through social change. The group said it primarily provides services to more children than adults.
The nonprofit uploaded a photo of the letter on its Facebook page Wednesday. It has since been shared more than 1,000 times.
In it, the boy, identified only as Blake, wrote: "We had to leave our house. Dad was mad. We had to do all the chores. Dad got everything he wanted. Mom said it was time to leave and she would take us to a safer place where we don't have to be scared."
"I'm still nervous," the letter continued. "I don't want to talk to the other kids. Are you going to come this Christmas? We don't have any of our stuff."
Blake asked Santa for books, a dictionary, compass and a watch. He concluded the letter by writing: "I also want a very very very good dad. Can you do that too?"
Emily Hancock, vice president of development at SafeHaven of Tarrant County, told NBC News it is not uncommon for the organization to share artwork from clients, children in particular, who are in its shelters.
"This one, we shared with some of our supporters before posting it on social media," she said. "It highlights a lot of the feelings a lot of our clients feel — not just children."
Most people arrive at the shelters with little, but over time, "after they work with their case managers, they feel more adjusted to their environment," Hancock said.
Hancock could not disclose much information about the boy or his family because of privacy laws, but said that they have been in a shelter for about a month and do not yet have an exit day.
Hancock said the nonprofit did not anticipate such a strong response — they have seen an influx of monetary and other donations such as books and toys and many items on its immediate needs list on Amazon have been fulfilled — from the community in Texas and beyond.
"What's awesome is, we're having a lot of people open up about their experiences with domestic violence," Hancock said. "So for this post, where we intended to maybe get a couple likes or shares from our supporters, hopefully it can encourage someone in a similar situation to get the help they need."