NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The holidays can be hard for anyone who’s lost a loved one.
On Friday, the families of NYPD officers who died in the line of duty got a gift to make their grieving a little easier.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, it might sound obvious to find comfort in a teddy bear, but for these families, comfort is hard to come by.
“A keepsake for the rest of our lives – a that shirt he actually wore on patrol that he was proud to wear,” said Michael Williams.
Five NYPD families were given their “Blue Line Bears” on Friday. Each one is handmade out of a fallen officer’s uniform with their badge sewed on.
For the parents of Officer Randolph Holder, who was shot in the head two years ago in Harlem, the bear feels like their son is home for the holidays.
“It’s like my son is there, like he’s around,” his father, Randolph Sr., said.
Megan O’Grady, 15, came up with the idea last year after five police officers were killed in an ambush shooting in Dallas. The daughter of a Florida cop saw how easily her own family could be broken by the pull of a trigger.
“What happened to these families, there’s no changing what happened, but I can always try to make it better,” O’Grady said.
She has made more than 200 bears since.
Many families struggle to give up a uniform.
“It was actually really hard to send the shirts off to them, to let a little part of Mark go,” said widow Abby Rivera.
“Our son was only on the force for three months. He had three shirts,” Williams said.
But in return for their trust, O’Grady puts fervent care into every stitch.
“When you know the story, you see the face that belongs to this uniform, it’s really hard,” she said.
“I miss him, and this is good to have this,” said Joann Williams.
O’Grady says she hopes to keep making the teddy bears until one day there are no more fallen officers to make them for. She spends about four days on each of the bears and she has delivered them to 26 states.