ALTON — Big gifts can come in small packages, as members of the Alton Police Department learned at Lovejoy Elementary School in Alton on Monday.
Following an assembly at the beginning of the year, Randi Tomlinson, a second-grade student in Mrs. Harvey’s class, decided she wanted to make a difference in her community.
Alton Police Officer Brian Brenner with K9 Kenzo and Officer Mike Morelli put on a demonstration for the students and staff at Lovejoy, and Tomlinson’s love for animals gave her an idea to help her local department.
“Randi came home from school and told me the Alton Police Department needed help,” Randi’s mother, Jeri Tomlinson, said. “She wanted to raise money to help the K9s. She began collecting and saving, but the part that surprised us all was her birthday.”
Randi didn’t want gifts for herself at her party; instead, she asked her friends and family to bring a donation for the police dogs. Special guests at Randi’s party included her new friends Officer Brenner and Officer Morelli. Since the day of the first assembly, Tomlinson has collected $720 to donate to the Alton Police K9 fund.
“It’s amazing that we were able impact this little girl’s life,” Morelli said. “We can catch bad guys all day long, but if we can reach at least one kid by coming to school, that makes it worthwhile for us to come to work every day. We are extremely thankful to Randi and her family. We want nothing more than the best for her. The fact that she didn’t want gifts for herself, at her age, you don’t run into that anymore. Kids like her are very few and far between.”
In another assembly Monday, in front of her classmates, teachers and family, Tomlinson presented Officer Morelli with a check that will be applied to the purchase of another dog in the future.
“I want to keep going (fundraising) until Alton can get another dog,” Randi Tomlinson said. “Someday I want to be a veterinarian so I can help K9 dogs, but if I can’t do that I want to be a K9 officer, too.”
Randi’s mother said her next goal is to raise $2,000 in the next year for the K9 fund.
“Just getting a dog is very expensive,” Morelli said. “It costs upward of $8,000 just to get the dog. It’s amazing that Randi wants to help the department. She’s an extraordinary young lady.”
The Alton Police Department has K9 Kenzo on the streets with Brenner and K9 Jax is in training at the Illinois State Police training academy with Morelli. Anyone interested in helping Randi reach her goal can send donations, payable to the Alton Police K-9 Fund, to 1700 E. Broadway, Alton, IL 62002, with Randi Tomlinson on the memo line.