The stuffed bears that one student makes began a small way for families to carry a piece of their loved ones. Now they’re helping hundreds of children nationwide cope with that loss.
When Megan O’Grady founded Blue Line Bears four years ago, she hoped to bring comfort to the families of fallen officers. But she had no idea how much her act of kindness resonated with people.
“I thought it was going to be like, ‘OK, let’s make like 30 bears a year,’ and then that turned into the 200 and turned into just… like, everything, and now the shop,” O’Grady said.
In a shop dedicated to everything “Blue Line Bears,” blue buckets are filled with bears just waiting to be made.
O’Grady says her labor of love has grown to the point that she can’t do it alone anymore.
“We have two sewing stations for people to come and volunteer and help sew the bears; we have an embroidery and stuffing machine for the same type of deal,” she said. “It’s just a really good environment for us to have meetings and continue to make bears.”
O’Grady recently delivered bears to the family of Marco Island Police Officer Lieutenant Clayton Smith, who died in a car crash last year. He left behind a wife and seven children.
“Lots of tears. Lots and lots of tears. I’m really hoping that they like the bears because they’re going to his grandkids,” said O’Grady.
Patrick O’Grady is Megan’s father and Master Sergeant at the Cape Coral Police Department.
“When you look at the patches on the wall and the challenge coins on the flag and you see all the families that you helped, it makes you feel good. That at the same time that they’re having this really horrible time in their life, that you can provide them with a little bit of joy and something to hold on to and remember,” he said.
A simple tribute to public servants gone too soon.
Megan does all of this while being a full-time student at the University of Central Florida. Her family plans to help her run the shop while she’s away. The “Blue Line Bears” store officially opens on Tuesday, and operating hours will be Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.