The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

February 8, 2011

Keeping soldiers cool

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Troops deployed to the Middle East often face hot temperatures of 130 degrees and higher, but Kimberly Stewart’s Family and Consumer Science class is doing their best to help keep the soldiers cool.

Stewart’s class, at Greenville High School  and supported by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), is doing this by creating cool scarves, which the soldiers wear like a tie around their necks, giving them the feeling of a cool, wet cloth on the back of their necks.

A cool scarf is a strip of cotton woven fabric filled with nontoxic polyacrylamide granules (crystals) concealed in the casing of the scarf.

When soaked in water for 15 to 30 minutes the granules absorb the water, up to 400 times its weight, expand and turn into a crystalline gel.

The cotton fabric absorbs water from the gel and then the water evaporates for a cooling effect.

The scarves stay cool and moist for hours due to the polyacrylamide’s water-retaining properties and when they’re allowed to dry, the gel returns to crystal form.

The class has already shipped of the scarves, along with handwritten notes of thanks and other goodies, to the soldiers in an effort for them to receive them by Valentine’s Day.

Abby Martens, who was in Family and Consumer Science class last year, brought the pattern to Stewart.

“My aunt found the pattern for my grandmother,” said Martens. “She’s home by herself a lot and my aunt thought this was something she might enjoy doing. She thought I could help her because it’s a really simple pattern.”

While the scarves help the students further their skills, it’s more of a community service/pay it forward project.

“I know it’s an unconventional Valentine’s Day gift,” said Stewart. “But if it works, and we know it will, then it will be a ‘cool’ gift, indeed.”

For more information on Cool Scarves for Soldiers contact Stewart at