THOMASVILLE — A little girl who attended a Thomasville Police Department (TPD) K9 unit demonstration last fall left in tears.
Lilly Anderson attended the demonstration at the City of Thomasville dog park during Halloween 2019. The answer was no when she asked if the police dogs have protective gear to wear when working criminal cases.
The thought of the dogs being injured or killed while on duty hit Lilly hard.
"I was crying," the 10-year-old said.
"She cried when she got in the car, and she said, 'Mom, I am going to get those vests,' " said Jeanette Dixon, Lilly's mother.
Said K9 officer, Brandon Kent, "This is a very sweet project that these two girls are doing. I had the pleasure of meeting them, and I can definitely see their heart when they shared this idea with me. The concern of our K9s not having ballistic vests drove these young ladies to do their part in trying to make sure our K9s' lives are protected. The other K9 handlers and I are extremely grateful for them and their efforts."
From an earlier lemonade stand Lilly staged in her neighborhood, the lemonade stand fundraiser idea was born.
Lilly's friend Wimberly Jones, who was involved in Lilly's neighborhood lemonade stand, is a partner in the K9 ballistics vest fundraiser.
The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday on Jail-Justice Center grounds at 921 Smith Ave. The cost is $1 per lemonade serving. Free hot dogs will be provided by TPD to anyone purchasing lemonade or making a monetary donation to the project.
Lilly has a lemon tree in her back yard. Frozen juice from the lemons will be used to make lemonade. Also, Chick-fil-A is donating five gallons of lemonade.
Redemptive Love Farm in Leon County, Florida, will provide two llamas at the lemonade stand site for those interested in being photographed with the animals.
The fundraising goal is $1,800 to purchase ballistics vests for three dogs. Donations may be made to @K9-lemon-AID.
Any money raised above $1,800 will be donated to Animal Rescue Coalition, a local organization that provides animal food to people who cannot afford to purchase food for their animals.
"K9 Kaiko and I would like to express our utmost gratitude to Lilly and Wimberly for their ambitions toward providing the bulletproof vest, which will help us continue to do our job safely and efficiently," said K9 officer Haley Jensen.
Lilly is a fifth-grader at Thomas County Middle School. Her pets include a cat, a dog, a guinea pig and four chickens named after Golden Girls characters.
Wimberly, daughter of Jenna and Jason Jones, has a dog, two rescue cats and a bearded dragon, a type of lizard. The 13-year-old is in seventh grade at Brookwood School.
Animals make Lilly happy.
“I like to see them run around and being happy," she said.