Kalkaska Woman Repurposes Old Police Uniforms To Give To Kids
Police officers are wary when it comes to throwing out their retired uniforms – fearing it could fall into the wrong hands.
Kalkaska City Police had about 150 uniforms in their basement — sitting there for decades.
Lieutenant Artress asked his officers to get creative with what they could do with the retired uniforms. Officer Gray took the idea home to his wife and she had a solution.
“It just kind of popped in my head — well why don’t we make teddy bears for children that need a little extra something special?”
Eva Gray has been snipping and stitching to make these bears.
“I actually use almost all of the uniform,” Eva said.
The retired pants for the teddy bear bodies, the retired shirts for the teddy bear coats, the buttons for the eyes…all the way down to the little details.
“I actually have been able to incorporate the signature lines from the police officer uniforms into the bears,” Eva said.
The only part of the teddy bear that doesn’t come from the retired uniform is the thread and stuffing – and some has already been generously donated by the community.
The uniforms date back to the early 1990’s.
Lieutenant Artress remembers when the retired uniforms in the basement used to be his everyday get-up.
“I started in 1991 and I’m sure there’s a pair of pants and a shirt down there that I wore then,” Lieutenant Artress said.
At first — he wasn’t sure this challenge would go over well with his officers.
“Honestly at the very beginning I just threw it out there and I was very impressed how quick they were able to come up with something,” Lieutenant Artress said.
Each bear takes Eva about 2 and a half hours – but the more she makes, the quicker she gets.
“The last four that I did I made production line style – where I’d do all the heads first, parts of the bodies, so I didn’t have to keep changing threads,” Eva said.
The best part?
Officers will give these bears to children involved in critical incidents.
Children involved in a car crash, or experiencing family trouble.
“In times of critical incidents children become very upset and sometimes they can get the view that the police might be against them and we really want to make sure that they know the police are there to help,” Lieutenant Artress said.
Eva will make about 75 of these bears.
Two of them will be kept in the back of each patrol car so officers can give to kids who need it.