Love Your Kid’s New Backpack, But Where’s Their Pillowcase?


By now, you’re probably settled into the new school year routine. Shoes still in good shape. Backpack not ripped, yet. You still know where most of the ribbons and bows are. But, has your third, fourth or fifth grader brought their pillowcase home yet?

In addition to your little one learning fractions on their laptop, they’re not too young to learn about what they can and should do during a potential emergency. The American Red Cross can ready them with a unique workshop.

The Pillowcase Project is a free interactive disaster preparedness education program for children in grades 3-5. Its purpose is to increase their awareness and understanding of weather-related and man-made disasters such as home fires. Within the past year, more than 3,000 Arkansas students have received emergency training through the Pillowcase Project.

The program was started by the Red Cross in New Orleans post the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, after the local executive learned of students at Loyola University stuffing what personal items they could carry into their pillowcases as they evacuated their dorms to safety. Expanding on their creativity from necessity, the Red Cross program focuses on younger students to inform and empower them with lifesaving skills to last as they grow.

The Pillowcase Project training provides age-appropriate safety and emotional coping skills, and emphasizes the importance of your child’s personal preparedness. The feedback from parents and educators confirms the benefits of the instruction in a fun but informative way.

Students learn ways to be aware before, and to stay safe during and after disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, home fires and more that could happen in Arkansas or where students may travel. They also learn how to create their own emergency supply kits using a customized pillowcase design.

A bonus of the program is knowing students will share what they’ve learned with family and friends, increasing the number of disaster prepared persons.

If you’d like your school, student, civic or community group to receive a Pillowcase Project, or if you’d like to become a Pillowcase Project instructor, please contact Arkansas Disaster Manager, Patricia Fry at

Featured image source. Read more American Red Cross in Arkansas news here.

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