Welcome to “The Gator Project” !

August 19, 2008

About the Gator Project

“The Gator Project” started with a simple phone call on Thanksgiving Day in 2004. Our Marine son serving in Iraq, requested a neck warmer, or “gator”. No longer 110 degrees, it was down to 50s during the day, 30s at night. I purchased several yards of camouflage fleece and made sixteen gators, one for him and one for each of his South Texas based team. (If a Vermonter is cold, imagine how those southern guys felt!) And so, the “Gator Project” was born! My original goal was to send a thousand gators to our deployed soldiers serving in Iraq to keep them warm that winter. I requested help, both in donations to purchase the fleece and for postage, and for sewing help as well. The public responded! Boy and Girl Scouts, quilting groups, senior citizens, and school children, service organizations, and just plain folk pitched in. More gators are being made and shipped regularly to soldiers in all branches of the service. No U.S. service person should be cold. We are now making Neck Coolers, (Summer Gators) and directions are also included on this website.

It’s a VERY easy project–each one has just a few seams and takes only three minutes to sew. A postcard or a note tucked inside each one expressing appreciation and acknowledgment would be a personal touch.

Directions for Summer and Winter gators are included on this website. If you have a friend or family member serving abroad, feel free to mail your gators directly to him/her for distribution. Please email me at mary@thegatorproject.org with the quantity you send, to keep an accurate tally, which will be updated regularly on the this website. Don’t sew, but want to help? Start by forwarding this link to everyone in your address book. You will find, as I did, that people are eager and willing to do something to support our soldiers. Then, click on the “Other Ideas” tab for a list of other activities that anyone can do.


Founder, Mary Skelton

Founder, Mary Skelton

New total —– 40,000 and counting!

January 26, 2006

This week, we topped 40,000 gators and neck coolers! More requests continue to arrive. This was forwarded by a grandmother who ordered a dozen for her grandson:

Hey Grandma how are you doing I just got the internet back up after the move here. I just wanted to let you know hat I got here safe and look forward to seeing you when I get home. I aslo wanted to find out about mabey getting some more neck gators they have been hugly popular and every one who recived one said thanks. I didnt have enough for everyone so I was wondering about possibly getting another like 15 of them if that is possible let me know. Also drop me an email any time I alwasy enjoy hearing from you!

Love, Dan


I will be featured on a TV spot called “I challenge Mark”, on WPTZ, Channel 5, here in Vermont. He came today to learn how to make gators! It should help get more people interested in making gators, at least here in the northwestern corner of Vermont! Tune in, Wed, Feb 2.

Public Television Program on The Gator Project

December 27, 2005

On Wednesday, December 21, Don Collins, a producer of a public television station in St. Albans Vermont, interviewed me, Becky Tarte-Richards, and her ten year old son, Zach Tarte, for the program. Becky is the Vice President of the Franklin County Chapter of Business and Professional Women, and was instrumental in awarding me with the Woman of the Year award, not only from Franklin County, but from the whole State of Vermont!

Becky, along with her son Zach, and my two neighbors had a sewing bee at my home when a request came in for 300 gators. Zach made about 100 by himself! He had never sewn before, and had a great time learning to make gators. He aalso made one for himself — hot pink!

What’s for dinner? GATORS!!!

October 16, 2005

Margaret Cole, Houston, TX, has created a Gator Invasion in her dining room! She has her own website, www.singforpeace.com, which she started when her identical twin Marine Grandsons were deployed. Of the thousands of items she sent them, they reported that the Gators were the most appreciated. The sometimes wore three at a time! Since their return, Margaret has dedicated herself nearly full time to promote The Gator Project. She speaks regularly at Rotary clubs and other groups. Her dining room table shows the recent results, working with Boy Scouts. You, go, Girl!!! Thank you for your hard work, Margaret. The troops appreciate all your efforts!>Margaret Cole's dining room table

Honorary award:

October 7, 2005

I was very surprised and pleased to be honored as the Woman of the Year by the Franklin County Chapter of the Business and Professional Women, a National association.  This was given at the 40th Anniversary Party in St. Albans, VT.