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Pillowcase Project

  • Central New York - Pillowcase Project
The Pillowcase Project is a preparedness education program for children in grades 3 through 5 that provides the children with information about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills in emergency situations.

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Disney Pillowcase Project PSA

The Pillowcase Project in Western and Central New York

Central New York - Pillowcase Project

By Kimberleigh Powell, American Red Cross Communications Intern

The Pillowcase Project was started in New Orleans by the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter following Hurricane Katrina. Chapter CEO Kay Wilkins heard about college students who had evacuated and were using pillowcases to carry their valuables and belongings. The chapter implemented the program using pillowcases to teach children about preparedness and help them recover and become stronger following Katrina.

The program teaches 8- to 11-year-olds about natural hazards, safety, emotional coping skills, how to prepare for disasters, and the importance of personal preparedness and sharing their knowledge with friends and family. The program is taught in schools, summer camps, youth clubs and after-school settings. Chapter staff and volunteers teach the program through classroom instruction and interactive activities. The curriculum meets many of the Common Core State Standards for grades 3 to 5.

The training is structured by three core principles: Learn, Practice and Share. Learn how emergencies happen and how to stay safe when they do; Practice what you learn so you’ll be ready when an emergency happens; and Share what you’ve learned so that everyone knows how to stay safe in an emergency.

The program also teaches students how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase. Pillowcases are easy to transport during an emergency and students get to decorate and personalize them. Each student receives My Preparedness Workbook, a pillowcase, and a certificate of completion at the end of the training.

“The Pillowcase Project is an excellent program and is well received by students and educators,” said Jill Deskins, Regional Volunteer Services Officer for the American Red Cross Western & Central New York Region. “The components ‘Learn, Practice, Share’ make the program both educational and fun. We would like to thank Disney for sponsoring such a wonderful program.”

Contact your local chapter or fill out this form to request information, request a presentation, or become a volunteer with the program in your area.

Pillowcase Sponsor

Disney has provided $4.2 million for their Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) membership and to help fund the Pillowcase Project. Thanks to sponsorship from Disney, Red Cross chapters are empowering students to take action before and during a disaster. Disney sponsored the training, enabling chapters to customize and implement the program and provide thousands of children with preparedness education.

Photos: AmeriCorps volunteers and interns from the Central New York Chapter of the American Red Cross present the Pillowcase Project at Stonehedge Elementary School in Camillus. (Photos courtesy of Stonehedge Elementary School).