Watertown Police officers will have a new tool in their cruisers, a bag full of stuffed animals to comfort youngster who have experienced a difficult situation.
The six bags full of plush toys come via a donation from the Bethesda Freemasons Lodge, which represents Watertown. The program is known as Project Delta.
Officer Michael Stewart said he knows that they will be a useful tool. Recently, he was in a situation where he was keeping a young boy company at the Police station.
“Unfortunately it was a circumstance where he couldn’t be home, he was waiting for someone to come and hang out with him,” Stewart said. “I was just trying to distract him but we didn’t have something like this that could actually provide comfort and also a lasting memory.”
Stewart said his wife went through a similar situation when she was young.
“My wife was in a car accident when she was younger and a nice office had one of these and he gave her a stuffed animal that she still has today,” he said. “She remembers that moment, how it lasted, and made a positive impact, and it wasn’t scary.”
Stewart said he is joining the Bethesda Lodge after getting to know Rabih Saroufim, a member of the Lodge.
“I took the Citizens Police Academy and I was fortunate enough to become Michael’s ride along, and he showed an interest in Masonry, and the rest is history,” Saroufim said.
The bags of stuffed animals were delivered to the Watertown Police earlier this month. Saroufim was joined by fellow Bethesda Lodge members George F. Matta and Peter Delaney, and Mark AuBuchon, who is a member of multiple lodges, as well as the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Project Delta has been spreading across Massachusetts, and the country, AuBuchon said.
“I first saw it in Braintree, Jon Hinthorn showed it to me,” AuBuchon said.
AuBuchon and Hinthorn were taking some of the bags of stuff animals up to the lodge in Salem, where a Mason from Illinois had stopped while on a trip to the area.
“When he heard about this he picked up the phone and called one of the guys who runs the Grand Lodge in Illinois and said, ‘I’ve got this thing in front of me, this is amazing, and I want to tell you about them,'” AuBuchon said. “They have a podcast, and someone from New Jersey heard the podcast and it’s going there.”
A Mason from Hawaii also heard about the program, and some of the bags are being sent to Maui for the survivors of the fires, according to the Facebook page from the Delta Lodge in Braintree.
The Bethesda Lodge used to meet on Church Street in Watertown, but now meets at the Newtonville Masonic Temple, 460 Newtonville Ave., in Newton, said Matta.