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Red Cross, Disney Help Prepare Kids for Disasters

Pillowcase Project
The Pillowcase Project Has Helped Children Across the U.S.

When disasters strike, the experience can be particularly traumatic for children who are suddenly forced out of their daily routine and the world they once knew. To help mitigate this trauma, the American Red Cross and Disney are working together to ensure every child is prepared for emergencies.

Created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project was inspired by local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Trained instructors educate children in grades 3-5 with a curriculum structured around three core principles: learn, practice and share. Children learn about personal and family preparedness, local hazards and basic coping skills. The program tells students how to create their own emergency supplies kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during an emergency.

The Pillowcase Project has already reached more than 270,000 young people across the country and, with Disney’s renewed commitment, thousands more will be reached. From home fire safety to preparing for a community-wide disaster like a hurricane or a tornado, this program and its recognizable Disney characters help teach children to be ready for an emergency instead of being afraid.

The pillowcase, which features Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, has reminders of what to include – flashlight, toothbrush, change of clothes and toy - printed on the outside. Children are encouraged to personalize it with colored makers.

The Pillowcase Project has already been successful in helping children involved in disasters:

  • After devastating tornadoes swept through Moore, Oklahoma, the importance of The Pillowcase Project was seen when children who had attended the class were impacted by the storms. Prior to the tornadoes touching down, the Red Cross had visited several schools. Parents used social media outlets to explain how valuable that training proved to be. “Thank you. Today we had a tornado in our town and a couple days ago u came to my son's school and gave him the pillow case full of important things. He took this with him in the shelter today and was more prepared then I was. Thank you.”
  • At a class in Evanston Illinois, nine-year-old Margaret drew pictures of soap, a water bottle and a t-shirt on her pillowcase with the words “I’m safe.” “I learned a lot about what to do in emergencies that I didn’t know before,” she said. “When I go home I’m going to put this pillowcase right beside my bed.”
  • During National Preparedness Month, Disney is partnering with the Red Cross to keep children safe through The Pillowcase Project. In 2014, they also sponsored the creation of Monster Guard - the first mobile app created by the Red Cross designed specifically for kids. Thousands of children have downloaded the app and learned how to be prepared in case of emergency.

    For more information on The Pillowcase Project, contact your local Red Cross Chapter.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.