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Keeping Soldiers Cool


As temperatures continue to rise across the nation this summer, U.S. Service members in the Middle East are waging a battle on two fronts: escalating temperatures, as well as enemy combatants.  As Reed Galin reports, a group of women in New Mexico are helping them keep their cool under pressure. 


(Locator: Roswell, New Mexico)

Onita Barkley/First United Methodist Church of Roswell: “If we can do anything at all that kind of brightens a spot in their day, that’s basically what we want to do.”

Care packages have a personal meaning for these ladies from First United Methodist Church of Roswell.

Onita Barkley/First United Methodist Church of Roswell: “I think it will be a little piece of home. We sent 106 two months ago.”

Soldiers are grateful for the boxes which hold staples like sunscreen, gum, and hand sanitizer – and a small strip of fabric that may be the coolest and most practical item, considering temperatures in the Middle East.

Onita Barkley First United Methodist Church of Roswell: “When you soak them just for a very short time they expand and they will stay wet for the whole day, so they can wear them around their neck or they can put them in their helmet and it does bring down the body temperature.”

Billie Turner/First United Methodist Church of Roswell: “See the crystals, that’s right in here, and that’s the part that when it gets wet it’s cooling.”

Members borrowed the idea for these cool collars from a church in Arizona.

Onita Barkley/First United Methodist Church of Roswell: “And I know it works because I have used it.”

Some of these ladies have lost loved ones serving in the line of duty. 

Donna Echols/Niece killed in Iraq: “She was 19, she was recruited into the military, was shipped to Iraq, and so she was in combat there, then later on she was killed.”

Knowing the perils of battle, the packers always include a personal note in each box, too.

Onita Barkley/First United Methodist Church of Roswell:  “We hold you in our thoughts and prayers.  It will be a great day when you and your buddies come home.”


The women sew the collars themselves. The polymers that go into the collars are the same type of ingredient that is mixed with some garden soils to hold moisture.

For more information, contact the First United Methodist Church of Roswell, New Mexico by logging on to their website: or calling 505-622-1881.

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