A big-hearted New Jersey girl got a special shout-out on Facebook earlier this week after she anonymously picked up the tab for a police officer’s dinner — a simple gesture of thanks years after her own dad, a fellow officer, was killed in the line of duty.
As police in Jamesburg, New Jersey, explained in a post on Monday: An officer in their department, identified only as “Ptl. Quinn,” stopped into a local Italian restaurant to get dinner on Friday.
But when he went to pay the bill, the cashier told him he was all set: Someone else had paid.
“If that were the end of the story, it would be a good story,” the department wrote on Facebook. “What happened between then and today, makes this a great story.”
Quinn didn’t know it at the time, but after some “diligent police work,” he and the department learned that the good Samaritan who treated him to dinner was 8-year-old Mikayla Raji.
The little girl was eating with her mom, Mimi Jimenez-Raji, at the restaurant when Quinn arrived, according to the department. When he came into the restaurant, “Mikayla immediately greeted Ptl. Quinn with a hello and a smile.”
That’s when Mikayla came up with the idea to treat the officer to dinner, leaning over and whispering to her mother that she “insisted” on buying his food, the department wrote.
She and the officer had a “brief friendly chat before he left.” Days later, he learned what she had done for him.
Jamesburg police wrote that Mikayla has a “special place in her heart” for officers because her father, a fellow officer, was killed while working in 2008 by a drunk driver in Perth Amboy, New Jersey — seven months before Mikayla was born.
Speaking to News 12 New Jersey in a Monday story, Mikayla’s mom said her daughter “has a huge heart.”
She “looks up to [police officers]. She knows their job is hard,” Jimenez-Raji said. “She knows they put their lives on the line for us.”
In the Monday Facebook post, the department thanked Mikayla’s mother, a former officer herself: “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.”
The department gave Mikayla a big thank you as well and has set up an online fundraiser for her future education.
“You have an OPEN invitation to stop by Headquarters whenever you want, and this time dinner is on us!” their Facebook post read. “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.”