SYRACUSE -- Syracuse police are armed now with quilts for kids thanks to the Utah Quilt Guild.
The Utah Quilt Guild, a non-profit organization, decided to make comfort quilts and donate them to law enforcement agencies to give to children dealing with a difficult situation.
Two weeks ago, Cindy Hutchinson, president-elect and Davis North/Weber area representative for the guild, delivered 20 hand-made quilts packaged in two 12-gallon bags to Syracuse Police Chief Garret Atkin for his officers to use this winter.
"The quilts will act as a sense of comfort to a child at a time when it feels like the world is coming down on them," said Syracuse Police Lt. Heath Rogers. Giving a child something to hang onto during a crisis is nothing new for officers, Atkin said.
Police carry Teddy bears and other stuffed animals in their cars to give to a distraught child at an accident scene or crime scene, he said. Those are also donated to the police department.
Atkin said he first received a letter from the Utah Police Chiefs Association in March with a proposal from the Utah Quilt Guild to donate the quilts.
"I thought, if a group is interested in investing time to actually do this, of course, I'd accept their donation," Atkin said.
The "Comfort Quilt" project is the brainchild of Josephine Keasler, vice-president of the Utah Quilt Guild.
The guild has always made quilts and sent them to areas where there has been a disaster, like a hurricane or an earthquake, but this was the first time they looked at doing something local, Keasler said.
"We wanted to help our own children," Keasler said.
When Strike Force Agent Jared Francom was killed on Jan. 5, 2012, Keasler contacted the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial Association and asked if guild members could make quilts for Francom's family.
They made quilts for Francom's family, as well as for the other officers injured in the shoot-out and their families.
But then another officer, Utah Highway Patrol Officer Aaron Beesley died falling from a cliff while doing a search and rescue in June of 2012. The guild made quilts for his family also.
Kealser realized police officers could use more help and again approached the association with the idea of putting quilts in cop cars by October.
And the response across the state at first overwhelmed her from the police agencies and from the guild members.
Keasler received confirmation from 27 police agencies, including Syracuse, South Ogden, North Ogden, Tremonton, Brigham City and Box Elder Sheriff's Office, they would be happy to accept quilts for children. In all, she needed 651 quilts made in less than six months.
She hoped guild members would generate the number needed and was pleased with the donations of more than 700 quilts.
Hutchinson said it gave members an opportunity to put together "bright, happy colors," using soft fabrics, like fleece, flannel and cotton into patterns for children.
"It's wonderful, especially when you think of the kids who will snuggle in the quilt," Hutchinson said.
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaParkSE.