Quilts Help Children Through Trauma


Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Whetten knows well the value of "trauma quilts" supplied to officers by the Strawberry Patchers.

"I was at an accident where two children were involved and I had only one quilt," he said. "So, I called a fellow officer to bring a second quilt. They are that important."


Willene Smith, wife of retired police officer Walt Smith, founded the "trauma quilt" program undertaken by members of the Strawberry Patchers. The 45-member group annually designs and sews quilts to be given to DPS officers. The quilts are then given to children involved in auto accidents.

Because the Strawberry Patchers have been able to deliver 3,555 quilts since Willene Smith began the project, each officer now carries two quilts in his or her patrol car.

"They give aid and comfort to the young children when they have been traumatized," Whetten said.

The quilts have become so popular they've replaced "Trauma Bears" that were supplied in years past.

For three days this week, Strawberry Patchers members gathered in the activity room of the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library where they patched and sewed the quilts, knowing they would someday be used to soothe a suffering child.

"These quilts help calm and comfort children," said Strawberry Patchers member Maureen Pastika.

The money to purchase fabric and batting for the quilts is raised at various benefits during the year.

Among the fund-raisers is a raffle held each summer during the Strawberry Festival. The raffle prize is an "Opportunity Quilt" sewn by club members.

The theme of last summer's prize quilt was "Forest Fantasy." The colorful, woodsy quilt turned out to be the pride of the quilters because it was totally original, no pattern was used, and all members had a say-so in its design.

Also during the Strawberry Festival, the members host a quilt show that has proven to be a big draw in the weekend of festivities.

While quilting is a passion for members of the Strawberry club, it's the fruits of their labors of love that have drawn the admiration of DPS officers.

"What they do in giving us those quilts is help us help children in need, and that's so important," Whetten said.

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