NORMAN — Carol Doner has been making neck coolers for soldiers for several years through the HUGS project, but after tornadoes devastated much of Moore and eastern Cleveland County she realized how useful they might be to people cleaning up debris.
The neck wraps sewn with 100 percent cotton and filled with watering crystals can reduce the body's core temperature by 10 degrees on a hot day, she said.
With temperatures nearing 100 degrees, relief workers need to keep hydrated and cool, she said.
Doner, who is with Oklahoma Home and Community Education, which she dubs “4-H for grown-ups,” thought making the HUGS coolers for tornado relief workers was a perfect project for 4-H'ers, adult 4-H'ers and anyone in the community, young or old, looking for a way to help tornado victims.
Volunteers gathered for three days this week at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.
Rachel Lewis, 13, said she showed up to sew the colorful ties “because I like to help, and I've made them before.”
Mary Ann Wilson saw a notice in the newspaper and thought it sounded like a wonderful project.
“I know how to sew, and I wanted to help. I wanted to help the tornado victims, and as for soldiers, you always want to help the soldiers,” Wilson said.
Many ways to help
Doner said the three-day project this week was so successful that volunteers are invited to participate in a four-day session set for Monday through Thursday at the auditorium at the fairgrounds, 615 E Robinson.
Work sessions run from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and people are welcome to come and go as their schedules allow. People with questions can call the Cleveland County Extension Office at 321-4774.
Anyone with a sewing machine is welcome to bring it, but some machines will be provided, Doner said. The group is accepting donations of 100 percent cotton fabric and thread. Those who don't sew can volunteer to fill and iron the neck coolers.
On Thursday, Doner and her volunteers delivered completed neck coolers, pillowcases and pillows and other supplies to tornado victims living in tents in eastern Cleveland County. They plan more deliveries as more neck coolers are completed.
Doner and others make the neck coolers year-round to send to soldiers overseas, and for the Cleveland County Christmas Store. Firefighters also request the coolers to use at fire scenes, she said.