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American Red Cross Pillowcase Project Helps Children Prepare for Emergencies

Boy helps clean up in OKC tornado aftermath

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, affecting millions of people. Many children were traumatized by their memories of the storm’s fury so the American Red Cross developed a program using something as simple as a pillowcase to help these children feel safer and more prepared for a disaster.

Children learn how to create their own emergency supply kit by packing essential items in a pillowcase which is easy to carry in an emergency. They can decorate and personalize their pillowcase and each child receives a “My Preparedness Workbook” and a certificate of completion at the end of their training.

Today the Red Cross Pillowcase Project is available free to teach young children about natural hazards and how they can prepare for disasters.

The World’s Largest Pillowcase Project will be held on August 29, the ten-year anniversary of Katrina. Participating Red Cross chapters across the country will hold Pillowcase events to help children and their families learn the importance of being prepared for emergencies. Here in Central Florida, several presentations have been planned including two classes at the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida in Tampa and in Orange County at Blankner Elementary School Secret Lake Park.

To date, the Pillowcase Project has reached nearly 5,000 children in the Central Florida Region. Since 2013, when the program was standardized and rolled out nationally, it has reached more than 270,000 children across the United States.

“In the last ten years, the Pillowcase Project has helped countless children better plan for their future,” said Linda Jorge Carbone, Chief Executive Officer for the Central Florida Region and the Tampa Bay Chapter. “It all started with a pillowcase and an idea to help children in New Orleans and has spread to hundreds of communities across the country.”

Through the Pillowcase Project, children in grades three through five learn how weather hazards occur, how to get ready for and to cope with emergencies. They also learn how to develop a way to contact household members in an emergency situation, how to develop fire escape plans and emergency contact cards and how important it is to share what they learn with members of their household so everyone can be prepared.

For more information on the Pillowcase Project, contact Jose Bueno at (813) 868-7673 or by email at

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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.