Preparedness in a Pillowcase

Milestone reached for the Pillowcase Project

One million elementary school students across the country have now learned how to prepare themselves, their households and their communities for emergencies by participating in The Pillowcase Project. More than 11,000 of those children live in Northeast Ohio.

 

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, targeted at 3rd to 5th graders, 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.

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John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager was assisted by AmeriCorps worker Rachel Steiner at a Pillowcase Project presentation at the Cleveland VA Medical Center                                         Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

“It’s exciting to see young people in Northeast Ohio and across the country learn how to prepare themselves, their households, and their communities for emergencies and save lives by participating in The Pillowcase Project,” said John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager.

To date, 11 lives have been saved by four students who put into practice what they learned through the 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.”

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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.

Contact John Gareis at 216-431-3219 to schedule a Pillowcase Project presentation for your school, or email john.gareis@redcross.org. .  Additional information about The Pillowcase Project is available at redcross.org/pillowcase.

Greater Cleveland Heroes Honored

It’s fitting, but not intentional, that National Good Samaritan Day fell the day before we honored Greater Cleveland Heroes.

The day is also known as Good Samaritan Involvement Day. It is a day for unselfish actions to help those in need and to celebrate kindness.

The term “Good Samaritan” comes from the Bible parable where a Samaritan helped a stranger who had been robbed and beaten and left to die by the side of the road.  The Samaritan not only cleaned the man’s wounds and clothed him, but took him to an inn where he paid for the man’s care.

The term is used today to describe those who perform acts of kindness for those in need, especially those who are strangers.  Like the seven individuals we honored on March 15.

About 500 people attended the 2018 Greater Cleveland Heroes Award ceremony at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, where the Cleveland Indians received the Community Leader Award.  See our photo album of the event here.

In a nutshell…

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Patrolman Christopher Olup and Sergeant Robert Prochazka

Patrolman Christopher Olup and Sergeant Robert Prochazka of the Willowick Police Department risked their own lives to enter a burning house and pull a disabled man to safety.

 

 

 

Nurse Janine Smalley of the Cleveland VA Medical Center volunteered to treat thousands of veterans in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Gilbert DiSanto of Miceli Dairy used an AED and performed CPR to save the life of a man who had collapsed near the company’s headquarters in Cleveland.

 

 

Dana Walling was a customer at Classic BMW in Willoughby Hills when he helped two wounded police officers subdue a gunman.

Jared Lee of the MetroHealth System improvised by using the drawstring from his scrubs as a tourniquet on a severely injured victim of a car crash.

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John and Jan Durkalski

Jan Durkalski performed CPR and ran for help after her husband collapsed during a run in the Cleveland Metroparks, saving his life.

These seven individuals are the very definition of “Good Samaritans,” and we are proud to honor them for their selfless acts.

See our heroes tell their stories in their own words here.

We honored 12 Heroes earlier this month in Akron, at the 2018 Acts of Courage awards in the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter.  And coming in June, the Acts of Courage awards in Youngstown will honor heroes from our Lake to River Chapter.