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SPOKANE, Wash. (CBS Local) — A 12-year-old boy in Washington got the surprise of a lifetime when nearly 100 people showed up to his first-ever birthday party. It was a surprise — because most of his new classmates declined to attend.

The boy and his mother had just recently moved into an apartment after living in shelters for years around Spokane to escape a dangerous domestic violence situation.

The boy, whose mother requested to keep their identities private, enrolled in a new school. In late September, he invited all of his classmates to celebrate his birthday with him.

But when most of them declined, his mother took to Facebook to share how heartbroken he was.

It wasn’t long until Mike Ellis and his wife saw the post and decided they wanted to help.

“I said, ‘Hey, Hon, what do you think about putting on a birthday party for this special boy?'” Ellis told KREM. “And she said, ‘Let’s do it.'”

Ellis told Yahoo Lifestyle he had met the boy’s mom on World Homeless Day two years ago. She had told him her story of escaping domestic violence and finding her way to the streets and shelters of Spokane with her two boys.

Ellis decided to organize a party for the birthday boy and invited his family and friends on Facebook to join them.

A month later, Ellis said the boy was surprised when he walked in the Prohibition Gastropub, and his mother immediately started crying.

“He didn’t think that adults would come today,” Ellis said. “He didn’t think that kids would come today. So when he walked through the front door and saw a hundred, a hundred and fifty people, you could see it in his eyes, his excitement.”

Being at the party was just as much a gift for those who attended as it was for the boy.

“I’ve cried several times today, and it’s because of seeing love and generosity from complete strangers,” Ellis said.