When Palm Springs, California, police officer Lesley Zerebny was killed in the line of duty last Saturday as she responded to a domestic disturbance call, she left behind her husband, Zachary, and a 4-month-old daughter, Cora. But what happened next was wonderful: Local women in the Monterey area came together to donate breast milk for Cora—more than 500 ounces of it—after a family member posted on social media to ask for prayers following the loss.
The breast milk, wrote local KTVU reporter Claudine Wong on her Facebook page, was raised in just 24 hours—and it’s estimated to be enough to last Cora for a month. “It will be screened and tested before it can be used,” she wrote. The Palm Springs Police Officers Association was, at the time, also accepting donations for formula, which Lesley had been supplementing her nursing with.
Lesley had been with the department for 18 months and had just returned to work after taking maternity leave.
Four days ago—after the first coolers of milk had been donated—a police officer friend of Zachary posted on the GoFundMe page he created in her memory:
“We wanted to thank you for all the emails we have been receiving about donating breast milk to baby Cora. What a wonderful, selfless act of love from the community. While it is true Lesley was nursing and supplementing with formula, when she went back to work, those details have been worked out and the family will not be accepting breast milk from the public. Thank you again for loving this precious girl, we will continue to ask for your support in this trying time in various ways so continue to watch our updates.”
He’d made the page to raise funds for Zachary, a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy, so that he could take care of Cora without worrying about finances. At the time of writing, $ 118,570 of the $ 125,000 goal had been raised by 2,038 people.
“…This is not about breast milk or formula, it’s about the human heart and about the desire and the capacity of people to give,” Wong wrote.
SELF – Culture