Lt. Dane Gilmore of the Alaska State Troopers accepts 26 hand-made quilts from a group of crafters on Thursday, March 11, 2016 at Northwood Apartments in Soldotna, Alaska. Through several cooperating agencies, the blankets are given out to children in need or involved in investigations.

Crafters make quilts for kids in need

Soldotna-based Alaska State Troopers and the agencies they work with will be able to provide children involved in legal issues or cases with blankets to comfort them during the process.

A group of crafters at Northwood Apartments in Soldotna donated 26 handmade quilts to the troopers post on Thursday. The quilts can be given out as needed to children involved in court proceedings or criminal cases, said Lt. Dane Gilmore, deputy commander of E Detachment, which covers the Kenai Peninsula.

“These are mostly used in cooperation with the domestic violence shelters and child advocacy shelters, so mostly in Seward, Homer and then in Soldotna with cooperation with the Kenai Police Department and the Soldotna Police Department,” Gilmore said. “And for this area, the Alaska Bureau of Investigations primarily deals with cases of that nature.”

It took about a month of work for eight group members to finish the quilts, said Mary Ward, the apartment complex’s property manager. How the suggestion of donating to the Alaska State Troopers came up is a bit hazy, but group members said they jumped at the idea.

“Me being a mom — a single mom at that — I know that there’s always children in need, you know, especially in our area there’s always kids that need stuff,” Ward said. “For me, when they said ‘troopers’ I was like, ‘Oh, absolutely,” because they interact with children on so many levels.”

It’s hard to track how often the blankets are being used, Gilmore said, but it is dependent on the situation a child is in.

“Primarily, it’s coming up with the interviews of children who have been abused, and certain things are more of a comfort item to a particular child, so depending on how the interaction’s going with the advocate or the trooper, then that might be an appropriate way to go,” he said.

The group is already accepting donations for their next round of quilt making, Ward said. In particular, they are in need of fabrics that would appeal to children.

“We like the flannel and the cotton … the softer stuff,” she said.

The craft group formed a few years ago when one resident at the apartment complex wanted to learn how to make a pot holder from another resident. From there, it grew into quilting and the women donate blankets to troopers and other organizations, and make decorations for around the apartments.

Getting together to craft has also turned into a social hour for Northwood residents, Ward said.

The craft time is also open to non-residents.

The group members range in age from residents of the apartments to 14-year-old Amanda Eby and her sister, Ashley, who joined to spend time with and learn from their grandmother, Joyce Eby.


Reach Megan Pacer at

Colleen Maricle works on an unfinished quilt during a craft session on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Northwood Apartments in Soldotna, Alaska. A group of local crafters make and donate quilts to Alaska State Troopers and other organizations for them to give out to children in need.

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