(INSIDE EDITION) — Officer Cody Gray was working at the Kalkaska Police Department in Michigan when his lieutenant asked a group of officers what could be done with a batch of more than 100 police uniforms from the early 90s.
At home, Cody asked his wife, Eva, for ideas. And a heartwarming initiative was born as she suggested making teddy bears for children.
“I’ve dubbed them patrol bears,” Eva told InsideEdition.com.
Eva started with a prototype that took about six hours to make, using a pattern she found at a craft store and makeshift fabric taken from the shirt and pants of one uniform.
Now, it takes about 2.5 hours to transform one uniform into a bear.
The blue patrol bears are dressed in their own replicas of the Kalkaska police uniform that even includes a stripe lining down the pant leg and a patch on the tummy.
To complete the little officers, they are filled with stuffing that’s been donated to Eva from members of the community.
“We took it in to show the lieutenant and he absolutely loved it,” Eva said.
The bears will be handed out to children who have been victims of a crime, involved in accidents or are gripped by a family tragedy.
“We haven’t fully discussed what instances [they] are going to be able to use these for,” she said. “I think the officers will just know when a child needs a bear,” Eva said.
Officer Gray already gives out stickers to children, so he says that when he gives out his first bear, he will have mixed feelings.
“The teddy bears are going to kids when they’re at the most vulnerable when they need something extra to help them get through an event,” he said. “I think it’s going to be great to give these to the kids so they can feel better in a bad situation.”
The couple has three kids of their own and Eva says if something ever happened to their children, she couldn’t imagine how they would feel, but she says her kids try to help with making the bears.
Eva says she was asked whether she’d be willing to make bears for other departments with their uniforms, but between three kids and a full-time job, there would be little time.
“I was actually trying to think about some type of grant that I can get to do this full time. [That] would be really cool,” she said.
Eva has made three bears so far that are ready to be handed out, but the plan is to make enough to put two bears in each patrol car for the officers to hand out, a total of more than 140 bears.
“It seems pretty neat to me because then the child will have a piece of the officer,” Eva said. “That’s very unique.”