Somerville police officer buys doll for girl after hearing her family couldn’t afford it

ashley catatao
Officer Ashley Catatao was given the "Beyond the Call of Duty" award in November. –Somerville Police Department

A Somerville police officer made a little girl’s day brighter this week after learning her family couldn’t afford to buy a doll the girl wanted.

Officer Ashley Catatao said she was working a patrol Tuesday morning when she stopped at a Walgreens to buy Father’s Day cards. She said she was standing in line behind a grandmother and a young girl carrying a Barbie doll, when the woman asked the clerk to scan to see how much it was.

When she heard the price, Catatao said the grandmother turned to the girl and said she was sorry, but she couldn’t afford the doll.

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“The girl looked sad, but she didn’t cry,” the officer said.

The grandmother offered to buy some candy instead, but Catatao said the girl shook her head and the pair left the store.

Catatao said she immediately told the clerk she’d buy the doll and ran out after the family with the toy. She said she wanted to do something because she was impressed by the girl’s behavior — she didn’t pout or throw a tantrum — and because the grandmother looked so sad when she didn’t have the money to buy the doll.

“I said, ‘Little girl, this is for you,’” Catatao said.

She said both the girl, 6-year-old Jessica, and her grandmother thanked her. Catatao posed for a photo with Jessica, which the grandmother sent to FOX25 Boston to bring attention to the officer’s kindness.

This isn’t the first time Catatao has reached out with empathy after encountering someone in a difficult situation. In November, she was given the “Beyond the Call of Duty Award” for sending flowers and a heartfelt note to a woman she pulled over who’d just learned her mother had to go into hospice care.

Still, Catatao said Thursday she was shocked to find out her action at the Walgreens had been reported to press.

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She said giving to others is something she hopes to instill in her 2-year-old son. Just doing something small, or saying “hi,” can make a huge difference, she said.

“You never know what people are going through,” she said.

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