An 8-year-old girl from New Jersey anonymously paid for a cop's dinner as a tribute to her late father, who died in the line of duty before she was born.
Patrolman Joseph Quinn stopped by a local Italian restaurant and pizzeria for some dinner, according to News 12 New Jersey. After his meal, when Quinn asked for the bill, an employee told him that he owed nothing and that an anonymous good Samaritan had picked up the tab.
Quinn decided to do some detective work and found that his food was paid for by 8-year-old Mikayla Raji.
"Mikayla was dining with her mother, Mimi Jimenez-Raji when Ptl. Quinn arrived to pick up his food," the Jamesburg Police Department wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. "Mikayla immediately greeted Ptl. Quinn with a hello and a smile. Mikayla leaned over and whispered to her mother that she insisted on buying Ptl. Quinn's food. Mikayla and Ptl. Quinn had a brief friendly chat before he left."
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Mikayla's own father was a police officer but was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver in 2008, only seven months before she was born. The girl's mother was also an officer, but has since retired.
“[Mikayla] looks up to [police officers]. She knows their job is hard,” Mimi told News 12. “She knows they put their lives on the line for us."
The department directly addressed Mikayla and her mother in its Facebook post, thanking them for their kindness.
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On behalf of all the members of the Jamesburg Police Department, we want to thank you for Tommy's service as well as yours. Mikayla is a great kid, and you should be very proud of her.
Thank you for buying Ptl. Quinn's dinner. You have an OPEN invitation to stop by Headquarters whenever you want, and this time dinner is on us! Your dad would be so proud of the person you are. If you ever need us for anything, you can guarantee we will be there for you.
Jamesburg Police Chief James Craparotta told News 12 that he was incredibly touched by the story and wants to repay the girl's kind gesture.
"It actually brought a tear to my eye today," he said. "We want to ask [Mikayla] if [she’d] be our honorary member to lead our parade on Memorial Day this year."
The department also created a GoFundMe to help with Mikayla's future education. Craparotta says that it's his way of paying the selfless act forward. The campaign was created on April 24 and as of April 26, it has raised almost $8,000.