By NATHAN GREGORY
In 2009, Starkville resident and former Golden Triangle Quilt Guild President Dot Livingston started a service in coordination with Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office which has helped several children in the area.
“Cruising With Kids Quilts” has been a way for deputies to comfort children in distress by providing them a quilt and a stuffed animal. The project, which started under former Sheriff Dolph Bryan’s administration, continues under current Sheriff Steve Gladney’s watch.
Participants in the program make quilts which are placed in each deputy’s cruiser.
Livingston said the guild was looking for a community project to help in the community.
“(Bryan and former Sheriff’s Deputy George Carrithers) agreed that we could put quilts in a Ziploc bag with a stuffed animal in each cruiser, that way if they encountered a child in distress … they give him a quilt and a toy and help him through the situation he was in,” Livingston said. “We love to share with our community our passion for quilts. We have probably placed close to 35 quilts in these cruisers over the past three years. We have about 15 more ready and packaged in case a sheriff calls for them. When we started there were 20 cruisers, and they’ve used 15 of the quilts. When they use them they give me the call, and I give them more.”
GTQG member Gloria Reeves said she was happy Livingston started the program.
“She’s been the one in the guild who’s ... coordinated the project with the sheriff’s department and has been ... our go-between,” Reeves said.
Current President Nancy Losure said each guild member agrees to make a quilt during their birthday month.
“Dot packaged them up with cards saying where they had come from ... and we’ve been resupplying the quilts as we go along,” she said. “Depending on what the design is and so forth ... there’s about 20 hours of work in a quilt.”
Gladney said he appreciates the guild’s efforts for community children.
“It’s amazing what something like a quilt or a teddy bear will do in a child’s life. I’m retired from the (Mississippi Highway) Patrol after 30 years and we kept teddy bears in there. Any time we had an accident where there were kids involved, we’d take those teddy bears out … A lot of times people are hurt, but just to walk up and hand one of them a teddy bear or that blanket ... you could just kind of see it in their eyes that everything was going to be OK,” Gladney said. “It was just something for them to hold onto — it was just kind of a domino effect — so we’ll certainly put them to good use.”
Livingston said she enjoys using one of her favorite hobbies to give back.
“Since I retired, quilting has become a real passion of mine. I love making quilts and giving them to people so they can use them,” she said. “It’s a very enjoyable pastime that I’ve retired to do.”
Losure said the project is an important outlet for GTQG and a way for them to use their talents for the greater good.
“We hear stories about kids (who have) been in an accident or a home situation. They’re a little wigged out, and just a blanket, a woobie (or) something to be comforted by is an important thing,” she said. “To make something that will actually be good to a kid and will go with that kid through his life and will comfort him for a long time to come, that’s a rewarding thing to do.”