"We started to get teary-eyed when we read the letter,' Lisa Swisley tells PEOPLE

By Caitlin Keating
January 14, 2015 03:25 PM

A young girl wanted to send her deceased dad a letter – so she wrote it out on a star-shapped balloon sent it off into the sky.

But not long after she let it go, it ended up falling to the ground 435 miles away in front of Local Heroes, a burger joint in Auburn, California, according to CBS Sacramento.

Jacob Brandt, who was leaving the restaurant Jan. 7, asked if the restaurant had a receptacle to throw it out in because he thought it was trash.

It was then that the owner, Lisa Swisley, 48, noticed the balloon had a letter on it.

“We started reading it and realized there was writing on it. It made us teary-eyed and emotional,” Swisley tells PEOPLE. “She wrote, ‘Happy birthday, Dad. I will always be your little girl, Dad. Don’t forget that I miss you.’ ”

Swisley had just been listening to The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom in her car and took the letter as a sign.

“I wanted to do something for this girl, so I found her Facebook, called her school, and they said I could send her a package there,” she says.

Swisley posted on Facebook that she is accepting donations to send the girl and set the deadline for Friday.

“So far we have received a lot of photo albums, notes, oils, lotions and jewelry,” she says. “I want to pay it forward and show this girl that we are thinking of her.”