When 7-year-old Blake penned an annual letter to Santa this week, he likely did not expect his words to be read by thousands of people across the country.
But his mom noticed the letter in his backpack, and it struck such a nerve that the domestic violence shelter they are staying at posted it on their Facebook page.
The heart-wrenching letter outlines some of what Blake has gone through:
We had to leave our house. Dad was mad. We had to do all the chores. Dad get 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. 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 here. Can you bring some chapter books, a dictionary, and a compass and a watch? I also want a very very very good dad. Can you do that too?
His letter went viral, touching hearts around the country.
"We never anticipated it would get the kind of attention that it has gotten," Kathryn Jacob, the president and CEO of the nonprofit shelter SafeHaven, said.
Since the shelter posted it, they've gotten loads of donations of holiday presents for kids staying at the shelter — including everything Blake asked for!
Jacob explained they run into these kind of situations a lot at their shelter, which serves all of Tarrant County in the area of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.
"To us, it was kind of a story that we've heard all the time," she said in an interview with TODAY on Wednesday. "Like tonight, we have 73 kids in the shelter. So Blake is just one of many."
What struck the staff, Jacob said, has been the response in some of the comments on the stories about Blake's letter from women who are survivors of domestic violence.
"One in three women in Texas will experience domestic violence in their lifetime," she explained. "Even though we inherently know that, what has been remarkable to us is the number of women commenting on those stories saying they can relate."
She said Blake and his mom have been at the shelter since around Thanksgiving and would likely be there through the holidays. Jacob added Blake and his mother were not in danger by being the subject of media attention.
"We would never compromise that through a social media post or otherwise," SafeHaven wrote on Facebook. "Blake and his mom are safe! Thank you for your concern for his family."
This story was originally published in 2019.