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Ladies group aims to keep troops cool
Carol Squires, right, hands sewers Betty Richardson, center, and Louise Bruce, left, the pinned and ready-to-sew material to create cool collars for members of Charlie Company to help them keep cooler in the desert heat while they are serving in Afghanistan. The three belong to the “Wonderful Works” ladies group at First Presbyterian Church.

Sure it gets hot in Georgia come August, but it’s even hotter in Afghanistan.

As Georgians scurry from one air-conditioned building to another in the summer, U.S. troops stationed overseas spend hours patrolling long stretches of scorching desert.

To help ease the heat, a group of Gainesville ladies are making "cool collars" to keep local soldiers from sweating it overseas. Charlie Company, a Gainesville-based Army National Guard unit, is slated to be mobilized for Afghanistan in a couple of weeks, along with much of the 48th Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard. Charlie Company is part of the 48th’s 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment.

Charlie Company has been taking part in required training at Fort Polk, La., home of the Joint Readiness Training Center, and Fort Benning before going overseas. After soldiers in the 48th are mobilized later this month or in April, they also will complete training at Camp Shelby, Miss., before deploying to Afghanistan.

Carol Squires is a member of "Wonderful Works," a ladies craft group based out of First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. Squires and the other dozen ladies of Wonderful Works have been busy sewing cool collars for Gainesville troops.

"We just wanted to support the troops in some way, and I knew this was something that was badly needed," she said.

Squires said the cool collars are made of fabric sleeves and little crystals. All soldiers need to do once they receive the collars is to fill them with cold water. As the water mixes with the crystals and evaporates, the collars cool the soldiers’ necks.

Squires said she first made the collars for her son, David Squires, who was stationed in Iraq two years ago with Charlie Company.

"We sent him a bunch then. He sent us back a picture of him with a thermometer that was registering 120 degrees," Carol Squires said. "He talked about how welcome they were, because they did keep him cool. They were very beneficial."

Carol Squires said the ladies’ group meets at 10 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month in room 186 at First Presbyterian Church on Enota Drive. She said anyone interested in joining the group is welcome to attend their meetings.

Also, a local group called Patriots’ Call is holding a public community send off to show support for Charlie Company of the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard and their families will be held from 3-5 p.m. March 26 at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The 48th’s mission, called Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix, will be to help train the Afghan National Army, according to Capt. Jeffrey Moran, Charlie Company’s commanding officer. Guard units from 20 states will participate in the mission.

He explained the task also is to help the Afghan army, police force and government earn legitimacy in their country. Members of the 48th actually will be embedded with the Afghan forces, living off the land and the local economy, Moran said.