Harrison girl, 7, a fundraising sensation, gets $7,500 surprise from Walmart
Kaohmi Gold, a Verona girl who turned 4 earlier this month, has set her sights on a new role model.
Her name is Kaley Bastine of Harrison, and at 7, she’s not much older than Kaohmi. They both really like dogs and cops — and especially police dogs.
Kaohmi has wanted to meet Kaley ever since her grandparents told her about Kaley’s string of fundraisers over the past year to raise money for local police. The family followed stories about Kaley in the Valley News Dispatch edition of the Tribune-Review and on Facebook when her efforts went viral.
“She doesn’t know Kaley, but we have to find her, and she wants to tell her that she did a good job,” Kaohmi’s grandmother, Lori Miller, said while Kaohmi nodded her head and munched on a hot dog Saturday afternoon at Kaley’s latest fundraising event. “We thought we would explain to Kaohmi what she was doing, and how little kids can do big things.
”Natrona Heights is very, very proud of this little girl for doing some good for the community.”
Kaley’s big surprise
Little did either child know, a big surprise was in store for Kaley this weekend.
About halfway through Saturday’s three-hour fundraiser at Bird Dog’s Sports Bar and Grill along Freeport Road, Kaley was called outside to the patio.
She opened the door to find a few dozen Harrison police officers, a K-9 officer and police dog from the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office and several employees from the nearby Walmart.
They smiled and applauded as they presented her with a jumbo-sized check for the Harrison Township Police Department in the amount of $7,500 from the Walmart Foundation.
Kaley’s eyes widened and her jaw opened. She turned to her mom and smiled and asked her what exactly what was happening. “I was almost going to scream as loud as I can,” Kaley recalled thinking at the time.
Prior to Saturday’s hot dog fundraiser, Kaley had raised more than $3,000 toward a campaign goal that has climbed to $10,000. The money already has gone to help Harrison police with the cost for new training and toward new protective equipment.
Kaley, who wants to be a police officer when she grows up, started out small — with a lemonade stand last July that raised $100. Then she did a cookie sale that netted $850 and a car wash that took in even more.
Harrison police officers and community members watched in awe as Kaley’s local efforts went viral via social media and landed her coverage on ABC News, Fox News and “Good Morning America.”
When they learned about Kaley, employees at the local Walmart reached out to the Walmart Foundation to request a donation to her fundraising campaign. Harrison police Sgt. Justin Bouch, who’s gotten to know Kaley since last year, along with his 12 fellow officers, said it’s clear that a young child’s focusing on acts of kindness resonates with a lot of people.
“What makes it inspiring is you have a 7-year-old girl who is just making such an impact on this whole entire town, and nationwide, now that it’s been picked up,” Bouch said. “It just shows that you put your heart into something and you’re doing something the right way, the support you’ll get from everybody.”
On her last visit to their station, Kaley used dry erase markers to leave behind a message on a whiteboard: “Hi Police, be safe. Love Kaley.” Bouch snapped a photo of the drawing and is making it into a T-shirt.
“She’s unbelievable,” Bouch said. “She brings such an energy to us every time we see her.”
State Sen. Lindsey Williams, who first met Kaley during a car wash fundraiser, attended Saturday’s event.
“It’s just really important to support anybody who’s doing good stuff in the community, and especially kids,” Williams said. A couple who owns a hot dog cart for private events, Road Dogs, donated the food Saturday while Bird Dog’s provided the venue and several volunteers hustled about.
With Walmart’s check putting Kaley above $10,000, she still has no intention to stop planning ways to raise money for police, she and her parents said.
“She’s not done; she’s not done at all,” said Jamie Bastine, Kaley’s mom.
Next up: a cake and cupcake stand, Kaley says, because she’s pretty sure everybody would like that. Also, Kaley really wants to meet Ellen DeGeneres some day.
She said with a toothy grin, “I want to get a big check from Ellen.”
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .