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Chicago boy who got letter from Obama invited to State of Union address

Malik Bryant, a 13-year-old Englewood boy made only one wish in a letter to Santa last year: "All I ask for is for safety, I just wanna be safe,” he wrote. In response, the White House sent a letter from President Barack Obama that said, "Please know your security is a priority for me in everything I do as President.” The boy also sat near the first lady during the State of the Union address. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama is inviting a Chicago youngster, Malik Bryant, to be one of her guests in the House chamber when President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the White House said on Sunday.

Malik, 13, who attends an Englewood grammar school, was featured in a Chicago Sun-Times story last month about a letter he received from Obama after writing a letter to Santa that read: “All I ask for is for safety. I just wanna be safe.”

It is a tradition for the first lady to invite guests to the State of the Union, and in 2014 she hosted about two dozen in her box.

Often, and this is likely to be the case with Malik, the guests end up being mentioned in the address to put a human face on a policy or proposal in the speech.

He wrote the letter as part of a program run by the Chicago-based DirectEffect Charities, founded in 2001.

“When I pulled this one letter from a seventh-grade class at an Englewood elementary school, I couldn’t stop reading it,” said Michelle DiGiacomo, CEO of DirectEffect.

“All this kid was asking for was safety. I was floored,” she told Sun-Times reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika.

With an assist from Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., Malik’s letter was forwarded to the White House.

In a reply letter dated Dec. 22, Obama wrote: “Each day I strive to ensure communities like yours are safe places to dream, discover and grow. . . . I will be rooting for you.”

Bryant is a student at Fulton Elementary School at 5300 S. Hermitage Ave. in Englewood, and he lives a few blocks away with his mother and two sisters. He departs for Washington on Monday.