GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania was going through a stack of mail recently when he noticed a very interesting letter from a four year old girl. It contained a hand-drawn picture and thanked the chief and his officers for their service.
The letter was from a family living all the way in San Diego. Melissa Lerch decided to take her daughter Courtney's artwork and mail it to one police station in every single state in America. Gulfport was the lucky station picked to represent Mississippi.
"I was just reading stuff in the magazines and the news leading up to that," said Lerch. "I was feeling kind of sad about everything going on so I tried to think about what I could do to make a difference."
When Chief Papania realized he was heading to San Diego later that week for a conference, he decided that instead of just writing back, he'd arrange to return the favor in person. And that's exactly what he did.
The week before Chief Papania headed to California to meet the family, he explained his plans to WLOX: "So Friday, when we travel out there, myself and my deputy chief will be meeting their family and will be having dinner with them and meeting this four and a half year old girl that sent a letter all the way from San Diego to Gulfport, Mississippi."
It's safe to say, the Lerch family were very excited to meet the two officers, also.
"Honestly, right now, we feel like a president is coming to our house," Lerch told WLOX News Now before the visit.
The chief and Deputy Chief Chris Loposser met the family on Friday and had dinner with the little girl whose artwork touched them so dearly. In exchange for her artwork, they brought her and her family various items from the Gulfport Police Department so they never forget what a big impression their little kindness made.
"It's moments like this that really make the job great," said Chief Papania.