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Preparing our Keiki

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“We want to empower kids to be proactive in emergency preparedness"

The Red Cross is known for showing up after disaster strikes, but its role is equally as significant in preparing for disasters. The Pillowcase Project was designed to ensure families are prepared by educating children about hazards and empowering them to take action in emergency preparedness.

“We teach keiki about hazards like hurricanes or tsunamis and the science behind each hazard.  Then we teach them how to prepare and what to do in case of an emergency. We also teach them fire safety and coping skills – how to handle these stressful situations,” explains Carole Kaʻapu, Hawaii Preparedness Manager.

The keiki learn how to make an emergency kit using a pillowcase provided by Disney, which they decorate as they please. They learn what they should include in their own kit, as well as their family emergency kit, and are encouraged to draw those items on their pillowcase to help them remember.  

“We want to empower kids to be proactive in emergency preparedness, rather than being reactive victims of it. The idea behind it is learn, practice, and share. You're going to learn something, do some interactive activity to practice it, and then share it with your parents,” Kaʻapu said.

The program is aimed toward grades 3-5. The Red Cross visits locations such as school classrooms, after-school programs, Scouts and Boys and Girls clubs.  About 1,000 children have been reached on Oʻahu since August 2015. 

“When a kid says 'oh, I get it, I'm gonna tell my mom,’ you know that this is something that's going to make an impact on them,” Kaʻapu said.

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by college students who used pillowcases to carry valuables during the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina. Now the program has expanded across the U.S. and internationally to reach hundreds of thousands of children and their families.

To help get our keiki prepared, learn how to become a volunteer at:

To schedule a pillowcase presenation for your group of students, please contact Carole Kaapu, Preparedness Manager at 808-739-8112