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Girl spends birthday money to buy lunch for police in wake of Dallas shootings

Instead of getting presents for her birthday, Samya McLaughlin, 9, wanted to send a message.

After watching news about the deadly shootings of Dallas police officers on July 7, Samya decided she wanted to use her birthday money to buy lunch for everyone at the 11th Precinct in her local neighborhood in Detroit.

Sierra McLaughlin
Samya McLaughlin, 9, surprised police officers at her local precinct in Detroit with a brown bag lunch that she bought with her birthday money.

"I wanted to show that all lives matter,'' Samya told TODAY. "I felt really bad for the kids (in Dallas) who lost their fathers, so I wanted to take care of the police officers and support them."

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Joining her mother, Sierra McLaughlin, and her father, Sam Walker, along with several other family members, Samya surprised the local officers with a brown bag lunch on July 9, a day before her ninth birthday. She helped pass out about 30 bags with sandwiches, fruit, chips and a cookie.

"To have such a small body with such a large heart and want to share her birthday with us like that, it was phenomenal,'' Officer Norma Black, a 14-year member of the Detroit Police Department, told TODAY.

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"There were some tears shed. It had been gloomy around here (in the wake of the Dallas shootings), and when she showed up it set a whole different tone."

Sierra McLaughlin
Detroit Police Department Officer Norma Black said Samya's gesture helped boost morale in the precinct during a time of tension following the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas.

Samya was honored as the "Officer of the Day" by the precinct after her heartwarming gesture. They are also arranging a tour of a local parade business that makes costumes and floats.

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"Since Samya did this for us, we've gotten a lot of phone calls about churches wanting to send us food and other people thanking us, so she has really fostered togetherness,'' Black said.

Sierra McLaughlin
Samya also spent part of her birthday money to buy food that she and her family distributed to the homeless.

"I don't want her to grow up to be afraid of the police,'' Sierra McLaughlin told TODAY. "We have to come together in order to resolve this issue. We need unity instead of division."

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The lunches for the police came after Samya and her family had also brought about 30 bags of food to homeless people in the area.

"It felt really good because I like making people happy, and I like to take care of people,'' Samya said.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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