SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California Highway Patrol officers played the part of Santa Claus for one little girl who made a very big difference this summer.
The lights were flashing and Christmas music was blasting through the loudspeaker as officers drove downtown toward 4-year-old Leilani's home.
Leilani and her dad Lydell Short met them on the sidewalk.
One officer walked up, crouched, and asked Leilani in a soft voice if she remembers them.
She and her dad met the officers last summer during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Short said they heard a commotion outside and saw the line of officers near a crowd of protestors.
"She's always telling me she wanted to be a police officer or whatnot, so I asked them if it would be okay if she took a picture with them," he said.
She high-fived and smiled with officers.
A moment of kindness that left an indelible mark and brought so many people together during a tense time.
Back at Leilani's home, Christmas gifts from the officers started flowing, including a barbie car, dinosaurs, a doctor doll, and most coveted, a brand new bicycle and scooter.
"We got a lot of stuff!!" Leilani cheered, kicking her foot into the air and smiling wide under her mask.
After seeing our latest story on ABC 10News on the family, the officers got in touch with Leilani's family to coordinate the surprise.
"She got everything she asked for so we were very appreciative. It made our Christmas for sure," Short said.
Before leaving, officers ensured she was fitted with a helmet and told her they wanted her to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and that she could call them anytime she needs them.
The exchange showing some gifts don't come in a box, but from the heart.