Article will continue after advertisement

By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

JAMESBURG, N.J. — An 8-year-old New Jersey girl is touching hearts across the country after she secretly paid for the dinner of a police officer she encountered in a restaurant.

Mikayla Raji and her mother, Mimi Raji, were eating in a restaurant in Helmetta Friday night when Jamesburg police Officer Joseph Quinn stopped in to pick up his own meal, according to Jamesburg police officials.

Mikayla has a soft spot for police officers. Her father, Perth Amboy police Officer Thomas Raji, was killed in the line of duty in August 2008, when Mimi Raji, also a police officer at the time, was pregnant with their daughter. Mikayla was born seven months after his death, which was caused by a drunken driver.

“(Mikayla) looks up to (police officers),” Mimi Raji told New Jersey’s News 12. “She knows they put their lives on the line for us.”

Raji and her daughter were eating their own meal when Mikayla spotted Quinn, who she greeted with a hello and a smile, the police department said on its Facebook page. After chatting with him for a few minutes, Mikayla whispered to her mother that she wanted to pay for his food.

She did so anonymously, but the department, “through diligent police work,” found out who was behind the gesture, the Facebook post read.

The department decided to pay the kind deed back, Jamesburg police Chief James Craparotta told News 12. They invited Mikayla to be an honorary department member so she could lead their Memorial Day parade.

The department also started a GoFundMe page to help fund her future education.

“Mikayla is a wonderful kid with a big heart, who loves to do kind things for people,” the fundraising page reads.

As of Tuesday morning, the page had raised $780 in 14 hours. The ultimate goal is to raise $10,000.