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Hundreds of normally stoic police officers across the country are being brought to tears because of the big heart belonging to a small Texas girl and the two words she has shared with each of them: Thank you.
Ten-year-old Savannah Solis has been busy crafting handmade thank-you cards ever since hearing about two New York police officers who were fatally shot while in their patrol car last December.
“I want to say thank you for taking care of us every day. You are my hero. I’m so glad we have you,” she wrote in one card. “I pray that God will protect you. Please keep watching out for us. Love, Savannah.”
She has since made hundreds of additional cards — so far, at least 500 more — for police officers in her home state of Texas, hand delivering many of the notes herself. For the police force in her hometown of Tyler, she also brought along cupcakes she baked.
“My goal is to tell as many police officers as I can that I love them,” Savannah told NBC-affiliate KXAN on Monday at a ceremony where she was honored for her work.
During a recent visit to the Austin Police Department, Savannah brought a basket full of handmade cards, each one decorated with a gold heart and a candy bar taped to the front. She also read a message she had written for the officers.
"She had us all in tears," Assistant Police Chief Jessica Robledo recalled Tuesday for TODAY.com. "We had officers, the big muscle guys that were standing there, trying not to let the tears run down their cheeks. It got to a point where she touched us all that we didn’t care if the tears were rolling down. It was just awesome. We just wanted to be in her presence."
Savannah's efforts led several NYPD officers to raise enough money, along with airfare assistance from JetBlue, to send her family on a trip last week to New York.
There she met with dozens of teary-eyed officers, including those at the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, where Officer Victor Cabral told the Associated Press that Savannah's messages of gratitude were "something we desperately needed in that time."
Back home this week in Texas, Savannah continues to relay her message of gratitude to police officers.
"To my heroes, I want to say, don’t stop. Please don’t give up,” she said during Monday's ceremony at the Texas Capitol.
She also posed a challenge to other children. “Say two simple words: ‘Thank you’ to a police officer if they run into one.”
Savannah has told people she hopes to become a police officer when she grows up. She specifically wants to join the canine police unit.
Robledo said Savannah's notes of gratitude and appreciation come at critical time for officers throughout the country.
"Especially now, you hear all the bad stuff about law enforcement, and this little girl's words, those cards and those few minutes of her speaking from her heart to us, rejuvenated us and just made us keep marching forward," she said.
"She’s got an old soul, because 10-year-old children don't know to speak from the heart like that unless there’s something special about them, and that little girl has something special."
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This article was originally published Mar. 3, 2015 at 3:47 p.m. ET.