No sweat: LTMS class looks after soldiers comfort
Lexington Trails Middle School eighth-grader Mary Chance carefully unrolls a fabric tube.
"The troops are over there sweating," she said of a Kansas unit in Afghanistan. "We don't want them to die of heat."
This fall, the eighth-graders in the middle school's family and consumer science class have been putting together "Hugs for Troops," which are cloth tubes that fit around the neck of soldiers and hold moisture in to keep them cool.
Middle school teacher Nikki Leisten, a member of the De Soto Ladies Auxiliary, said her husband was with the same unit until last year. Although they're stationed in Afghanistan, the unit is now in Pakistan, helping the victims of the recent earthquake.
"We decided on a tan fabric since we couldn't find camouflage," she said. "We didn't want colors that jump out since they're wearing sand-colored uniforms."
The class is making about 125 of the tubes, which are filled with Watersorb-brand crystals that expand and hold water.
Teacher Patty Parker showed the students how to use sewing machines to make seams straight along the fabric. After the first seam, students sewed the tube shut to keep the water crystals inside.
"It doesn't seem like a teaspoon would be enough," she said. "But it expands to fill the tube."
Parker put the tube in a bowl of water to demonstrate. After only a few seconds, the crystals expanded in the water to fill the tube.
"Maybe we shouldn't put in as much," she said. "We don't want the seams to burst."
Chance said the students learned to sew while making other projects for the extracurricular class. The students also cook and learn about nutrition.
"I love FACS class," she said. "I don't do breakfast (a program at school), so I joined for the cooking."
Fellow eighth-grader Sabrina Giersch said she's learning important skills in FACS.
"I just love sewing and cooking," she said. "I want to have a professional daycare, so I'll use them one day."
Ry Patton, one of the many eighth-grade boys using a sewing machine for the project, said he was surprised how easy it is to sew.
"You have to go slow at first," he said. "It's frustrating when you first start out."
Patton said his uncle was now serving in Iraq, and he was glad to volunteer his time for support.
Leisten said the parents donated money for the project, which cost about $120 without the cost of shipping.