Cups of Kindness: Project delivers coffee mugs to police

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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On Vancouver Police Department Detective Jason Mills’ desk sits a coffee mug that reads: “My heroes work for VPD and they are amazing.”

“I drink coffee every day, but I don’t know if I will drink out of this one,” Mills said. “I want to keep it nice.”

The mug was the product of a recent project started by Danielle Ireland and Addi Dearinger, who own and operate the paint-your-own ceramics store Earth, Glaze & Fire in Vancouver.

The duo wanted to show support for their local police agency and decided on something in their wheelhouse — making a coffee cup for each sworn Vancouver police officer, adorned with messages from the community. They called the project Cups of Kindness and invited anyone from the community to participate.

After more than a month of hard work, the pair delivered the gift on Monday. One hundred and ninety mugs were laid out on tables in the community room at the agency’s West Precinct, and officers have since stopped by to pick out one to keep.

Mills said he chose his mug because it will act as a token of this time in his law enforcement career.

“I’ll always remember where it came from and where I was working at the time,” he said.

Ireland and Dearinger showed up at about 3 p.m., which is near a shift change, so they were met by several officers.

Ireland watched as they walked around the room, reading the messages and smiling. She said it’s hard to describe how she felt getting to witness the officers’ reaction.

“You put so much effort into an idea, when it comes from the place this came from, that deeper part of us,” she said. “It was so gratifying and satisfying to do it.”

Ireland and Dearinger started the project in November. Dearinger cast the mugs from clay while Ireland took charge of the kiln, turning the greenware into sturdy bisque that was ready to be painted.

People stopped by their store or mailed in their notes of support and gratitude. Dearinger then traced those messages onto the mugs, working hard to make sure that the original handwriting was captured and that the authenticity of the drawings was preserved.

Ireland said she wants to be clear that this was not a gift from just her, her daughter or her store.

“We facilitated a place and a venue, giving the community a way to say ‘Thank you,’ ” Ireland said. “This was something that hundreds of people came together and contributed to.”

Lt. Kathy McNicholas said that after reading some of the messages on the mugs, she chose one with a drawing of a dog since she worked closely with police dogs when she oversaw the K-9 unit. The showing in general, she said, was heartwarming.

“It was a phenomenal support of the police department,” McNicholas said. “It’s very detailed, it’s very special to all of us.”

She said that though the Vancouver Police Department is very engaged and proactive in the community, there still hangs a negativity around law enforcement nationwide.

“Now everyone has constant reminder of the support that we have,” she said.