Palm Springs police officer Lesley Zerebny had just returned from her four-month maternity leave on October 8th when she and 35-year veteran officer Jose Gilbert “Gil” Vega were shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Zerebny left behind her newborn daughter, Cora.
Nothing can possibly take away the pain Zerebny’s family must be suffering — and the loss that 4-month-old Cora will hold in her heart for her entire life — but a band of mothers have come together to try to alleviate some of the sting of the tragedy.
According to PEOPLE, a group of mothers have lovingly donated over 500 ounces of breast milk to baby Cora since Zerebny was killed.
These mothers are amazing and deserve all of the attention they have been getting as this story of selfless giving has gone viral.
On October 11th, Newscaster Claudine Wong, of KTVU, shared photos of the donated milk on Facebook, along with the story of how this incredible act of kindness unfolded.
Wong explains that one of Zerebny’s family members had taken to social media to ask for prayers after Zerebny’s death, when a local Monterey-area mom named Amanda replied, asking if she could donate breast milk for baby Cora.
Things quickly snowballed from there, according to Wong. Several more mothers from the Monterey area volunteered to donate milk, and in just 24 hours, there was enough donated milk to last baby Cora through the next month.
It is important for breastfed babies to transition slowly from breast milk to formula, and this amount of breast milk will help baby Cora make the gradual transition to formula. Wong explains that all of this donated milk with be screened before it’s fed to Cora.
Ashley, the mother who started the stream of donations, is humble about the whole thing, telling Wong that she doesn’t want credit, but that she “just wanted to do a good thing in a bad situation.”
As far as I’m concerned, Ashley and the other moms who donated are nothing short of saints and should be given all the praise in the world.
When you hear of a tragedy like this, you want to do something — anything — to ease the pain for the family and help them rebuild their lives with love and care. These moms found a way to harness their mothering spirits (and their breast milk!) to do just that.
Wong emphasized that it’s not just the breast milk these mothers gave in Zerebny’s memory, but simply that they searched within their hearts to come up with an authentic way to help.
“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,” writes Wong.
Amen to that.
As for further donations, according to Wong, no further breast milk donations are being accepted. Wong writes that the Palm Springs Police Officers’ Associations is currently only requesting formula donations for baby Cora.
The Police Department has also set up a donation in honor of both officers killed in the tragic event. All of the proceeds with be given to their families.More On