Police Sgt. Rebecca Graves knew her family and fellow officers and friends were hurting for the families of five fallen officers from an ambush-style attack in July in Dallas.
As a show of support, Graves came up with an idea for the department and its supporters to make blankets with personal messages for the children of slain officers.
She spoke to several wives of Grapevine officers — many who are good friends — about getting their children involved.
“Our children were hurting so much for the kids of the fallen officers and they also were getting questions at school like ‘Is your parent going to die?’ ” Graves said. “I threw it out there to the wives to make blankets or something for the five families that would be meaningful and would bring healing to our and their police families.”
The project grew beyond anyone’s expectations and the blanket idea turned into five huge baskets filled with goodies from department and community supporters that included rag quilts, gift certificates, cakes, cash, bows, books and embroidered backpacks.
Graves, whose 19-, 12- and 4-year-old children signed the quilt, said she was amazed and proud how the project took off and the community really pitched in.
The catalyst for the baskets was a July 7 attack. On that evening, a gunman killed five police officers and left seven more injured in an attack that started after a peaceful Black Lives Matter march and rally in downtown. The gunman, Micah Johnson of Mesquite, was eventually cornered by police in a hallway at El Centro Community College. After several hours of trying to get him to surrender, they sent in a bomb-disposal robot that detonated and killed him.
“As a way to connect our Grapevine Police Department families with theirs, they created blankets, backpacks embroidered with officers’ names and baskets filled with gifts,” said Amanda McNew, police spokesperson. “Some of the items were handmade, others were donated from the Grapevine community such as gift cards.”
Recently, parents brought their children to the Grapevine Police Department to sign each blanket so they could “express their sense of community and brotherhood within the thin blue line,” McNew said.
On Sept. 11, the moms met at the police department and loaded everything into the gift baskets. A member of the Dallas Fallen Officers Foundation collected the baskets and other items to be delivered to the families.
The family of Darren Medlin paid for the backpacks. Medelin was killed in the line of duty in 2004 and was the first Grapevine officer killed on duty since the inception of the department in 1956.
Medlin — a Grapevine police officer who specialized in taking intoxicated motorists off the road — was struck and killed by a drunken-driving suspect while making a routine traffic stop in 2004.
Five custom quilts were provided by the Easley and Mitchell families.
Megan Easley, wife of Grapevine Police Sgt. Wade Easley, did all the creative work on the rag quilts.
Among the children and young adults who signed the quilts were her 5- and 8-year-old sons, the latter including personal messages such as prayers for the families and thanking them for their service.
“Some of the kids drew cute little pictures, too,” said Easley, who also has a 2-year-old daughter and twins on the way.