For months, William Evertz Jr. saved up his allowance, hoping to eventually have enough to buy a Power Wheels police car.
Instead, the 5-year-old used his hard-earned cash to purchase lunch Wednesday for the Winslow Police Department to show his appreciation to local law enforcement.
Dressed in a police shirt and badge, William proudly walked into the station, flanked by family members carrying balloons. He was given a special key to unlock the police entrance.
"Happy kindness day," he told about a dozen beaming police officers and staff gathered in the processing room. "I want to be a police officer. They keep us safe."
He was greeted by Police Chief George Smith, who presented William with police memorabilia and emblems, including a backpack, pens, and magnets.
"We need good police officers like you," the chief said. "I can't wait until you're old enough so we can hire you."
(He has a bit of schooling to finish first. He will be a kindergartner next month at Winslow School No. 3.)
Like many police departments around the country, Winslow, which has about 72 officers, has seen an outpouring of support recently after police shootings in Dallas and Louisiana.
Residents have dropped off sandwiches and baked goods and sent letters of appreciation, which are on display on a hallway bulletin board. But few gestures have been as heartwarming as the one from William, Smith said.
"It's one of those things that restores confidence in humanity. It makes you tear up," said Detective Sgt. Ray Cogan, an 18-year veteran and father of two. "It's nice to see that you're still the good guy."
Said Officer Justin Valentino, 28, a seven-year veteran: "The world definitely needs more people like him. It definitely goes a long way."
In addition to thanking police, William planned a day of kindness that included donating toys and school supplies to a Philadelphia domestic shelter and food and toys to an animal shelter.
"I got so much toys, I'm taking them to the kids," he said.
He got the idea to help others after watching a YouTube video that showed someone helping another person in need by donating money, said his mother, Tara, 29. From there, "he just went with it," she said.
"I think it means a lot to him. It's a good lesson to teach our kids," she said. "I'm really proud of him."
William, known by his family as "Bubba," earned his allowance by completing chores at their Winslow home. He fed chickens and ducks, swept outside, and helped his father, William Sr., wash the car.
But he fell short, saving about half of the $250 needed in about seven months. So his parents pitched in to make the purchases for their only child.
They delivered hoagies, potato chips, bottled water, and soda to the police station. William also brought a handmade thank-you card that read: "I like police officers, and we thank you for keeping our town safe. Enjoy your day!"
William was treated like a celebrity and spent most of his visit patiently conducting interviews and posing for photographs. He sat at the chief's desk and was given a ride home in the back of a squad car with a police escort.
Mayor Barry Wright commended William. Wright, a retired police officer, said the youngster could one day wear his Badge No. 23. William will receive a temporary police photo ID.
"I'm so proud of you. You can be chief some day," Wright told the youngster.