After a rough few weeks for police and with her birthday just around the corner, Mya Teran came up with a plan to celebrate in the best way she knew how — with care packages for her local police officers.
In the days before her 11th birthday, Mya put together 70 "police survival kits" and 20 "dispatcher care kits" that she later delivered to her police department in Wheeling, Illinois, outside Chicago.
She got the idea from her mother, Gabriela Valencia, who celebrated her 30th birthday by performing 30 acts of kindness.
"We on a regular basis do volunteer and charity work," Gabriela told TODAY.com. "It's a value that's strong in our family."
Each care package was full of candy and came with a handwritten note explaining its contents: "Life Savers to remind you of the many times you've been one" and "Smarties to give you wisdom for those split second decisions."
They also contained a "lucky penny to help you catch the bad guys."
Gabriela, who said she does a lot of advocating for police safety in her spare time, said her family was proud of Mya's efforts, especially Mya’s 10-year-old stepbrother.
“I can see him on the sidelines kind of soaking it all in," Valencia said.
The boy wasn't the only one inspired; the Wheeling police officers were thankful, too.
Last Thursday, the day she delivered the packages, officers began calling and stopping by her house.
Then, on Friday morning, police cruisers showed up on her street, and more than a dozen officers came to their door with birthday presents for Mya.
"The best part of all of this has been the response from the police department,” Valencia said. “Their appreciation has been honest and heartfelt.”
Valencia also believes the department's appreciation taught Mya an important lesson.
"These officers, this department, have helped me show what I can, otherwise, only preach — that if you are good to others, others will be good to you,” Valencia told TODAY in an email.
"Hopefully that's something that will shine through the rest of her life."