She never knew her father. He was killed before she was born. However, for an 8-year-old New Jersey girl, it’s important to follow his example.
Mikayla Raji stunned a random cop in a local pizza and pasta shop by anonymously buying him dinner last week.
Jamesburg Police Officer Joseph Quinn was eating at the Villa Borghese restaurant in Helmetta when little Mikayla Raji approached him to say hello. Raji then leaned over and whispered to her mother that she wanted to secretly pay for the officer’s dinner.
“I asked my mom if we could pay for his dinner, but keep it a secret. I wanted to do it because he works hard, and he keeps us all safe,” Mikayla told NBC News 4 Tuesday.
When Officer Quinn went to pay, he was told his food had already been purchased. It took some diligent police work, the department said on its Facebook page, but detectives were able to hunt down the little girl who paid for his meal.
As it turns out, Mikayla had seen Quinn walk in and Mikayla’s mom, Mimi Raji, gladly picked up the patrolman’s $15 tab.
NBC News 4 reports Mikayla’s mother still misses her husband, but she sees him in their daughter.
“It’s not easy but you know what, he left me the best part of him, and for that, I’m grateful,” Mimi said, who was also a Perth Amboy cop at the time of Thomas Raji’s death. She has since retired.
Mimi said her daughter’s gesture reminds her of her husband’s kindness.
“It says a lot about who she is, and it warms my heart because I know I’m doing something right,” Mimi told NBC News 4.
When Mikayla asked her mom to pick up the officer’s tab, Mimi could hardly say no.
“I smiled, it warmed my heart,” said Mimi. “She has a big heart and she’s always thinking about other people, and I thought that was so nice.”
NBC New 4 reports Mikayla has a special place in her heart for other officers. A drunk driver killed her father, Thomas Raji, in the line of duty Aug. 22, 2008.
Mikayla was born seven months after he died.
The restaurant’s owner Joe Russo says people occasionally pay for police officers’ meals, but this was the first time a child gave the recommendation.
“The fact that she knew to do that was pretty impressive,” he tells NBC New 4.
On its Facebook page, the Jamesburg police department thanked Mikayla’s mother for her service as a cop, and for that of her late husband. The department also extended an open invitation to Mikayla Raji to stop by headquarters whenever she wants.
NBC News 4 reports Jamesburg Police Chief James Craparotta said, “Everyone should learn to be so generous and so giving. The world would be a better place if everyone was like Mikayla.”
To show its gratitude for Mikayla’s random act of kindness, the police department launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for her education. To date, the fund has already raised more than $8,880 of its $20,000 goal.
“This time dinner is on us!” the department wrote on Facebook. “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.”
NBC New 4 reports in another show of gratitude toward Mikayla, the department says she will lead their town’s Memorial Day parade — riding in a police car of course.
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