Sofia Moncada has a lot to sing about. The fourth grader is in the U.S. on a medical visa from Colombia.
She’s received an eye transplant, and she recently also got to go on a shopping spree courtesy of the Citadel Outlets mall and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
“I felt happy and loved it and I bought some lip gloss that was a heart-shape,” said Moncada through a translator.
She got new clothes too, and best of all, some candy. Her mom says her daughter appreciates everything.
“She is very happy a lot if doors have opened up for her through the connection that we’ve made through the sheriff’s department, and through the school, and through the community,” Nuvia Neira said through a translator. “And now my daughter is going to be on TV.”
For deputies, outreach like this is an important way to connect with the East L.A. community.
“These are the small moments that you don’t realize ‘wow your dream came true,’ that you’re actually giving back to the community,” said LASD Sgt. Mayra Sotomayor. “At one point, we were the children in the community, and somebody, or maybe there was some time of impact, that impacted us to become deputy sheriffs.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the sheriff’s department did this type of outreach quite often. Now they want to reestablish those ties.
Make no mistake, Sofia was not the only one who walked away with a smile.
“She says ‘I’m never going to forget this day,’ and we’re never going to forget that day either,” Sotomayor said. “So it’s a very humbling, rewarding experience.”
Deputies won’t forget Sofia and her singing and they hope they left their mark too, on her and the community they are sworn to protect.
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