Commerce ISD Police officer Dave Contreras and K9 Coco met with the family of Jason Akers, Jr. last week. Jason had been raising money to purchase a K9 protective vest to donate through Vested Interest in K9s, a nonprofit organization that provides the vests to police organizations free of charge. Jason is donating the vest in memory of his departed dog “Boo.”

A local eight-year-old has raised funds to help protect a K9 in the line of duty in memory of his own departed dog.

Jason Akers, Jr., who’s family lives outside of town close to the Neylandville area, started the project after some encouragement from his mother, Cherry, who wanted to help instill lessons about giving back.

“We found out his father had cancer last year, so for Christmas, Jason got a lot of presents because people wanted to help out,” Akers said. “Since he was given so much, I wanted him to learn how to give back also.”

The family did some research and came across the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s, a group that gives police departments bullet and stab protective vests for their K9 units. Cherry says that Jason took to the idea of raising money to buy a protective vest for the organization to give away, and got to work.

Cherry says that he would go with her to estate sales that she would be working at and set up donation jars. Later on, he also held bake sales and has raised about $300 in the last month on bake sales alone. In all, Jason raised close to $800, and Cherry donated the rest as a birthday present to Jason last month to cover the $950 total cost.

That birthday was a somber one for Jason, however, as his beloved dog “Boo” had passed away the week prior from injuries sustained from another dog. Cherry said that this fundraiser means so much more to Jason now, as he will be donating in Boo’s honor to protect another dog.

Jason and his family also recently got to meet with Officer Dave Contreras and K9 Coco with the Commerce ISD Police Department. Coco happens to be a recipient of a vest from VIK9s and has been involved with the organization in other aspects as well.

Cherry says she saw the pair on Facebook, and thought they would be good role models for Jason, and could help show him how the vests work.

Jason was shy and soft spoken when asked about his fundraiser, but did say it meant a lot to be able to continue Boo’s legacy through a police K9.