Red Cross Trains 1 Million Children to Prepare for Disasters through The Pillowcase Project

The American Red Cross is pleased to announce that one million 3rd through 5th grade students have learned how to prepare themselves, their households and their communities for emergencies by participating in The Pillowcase Project.

Originally created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project is a free program inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations. During the presentation, participants receive a pillowcase to decorate and then take home to use as a personal emergency supplies kit.

The curriculum is structured by a Learn, Practice, Share framework. Students learn about the science of a locally relevant hazard and how to best prepare for it. They practice what to do if a disaster occurs and how to cope with related fear and stress. Afterwards, they share the information and skills they have learned with their family and friends so everyone in the household knows what to do.

“We are thrilled to reach this milestone of one million youth participating in The Pillowcase Project,” said Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the Red Cross. “It’s wonderful that so many children have been empowered by this project and now know how to prepare for emergencies and what to do if one occurs. To date, 11 lives have been saved by four students who put into practice what they learned through this vital program.”

Last year, 9-year-old Camryn Sarnie of Ramona, Oklahoma was startled awake at 3:00 a.m. by a smoke alarm sounding in his home. The sound scared Camryn, but he recognized it and knew that it was alerting him to a fire. He knew that he had less than two minutes to escape, so he quickly woke up his parents, alerted them to the fire and instructed them to evacuate immediately. Camryn saved three lives that morning, including his own, by putting into practice what he learned just a few weeks earlier from The Pillowcase Project presentation at his school. According to Camryn’s mother, Lora, “Camryn told us all about what he learned in class after the presentation. Camryn is a true hero.”

The Red Cross has engaged more than 35,000 volunteers and partnered with more than 13,000 schools, community organizations and partners to deliver this program to students across the country and at more than a dozen U.S. military stations abroad. The Walt Disney Company is the founding sponsor of the program. Additional information about The Pillowcase Project is available at

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