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.

Red Cross Reminiscing

By Jorge Martinez, Regional Chief Operating Officer

“The door that nobody else will go in at, seems always to swing open widely for me.”  -Clara Barton

That is exactly what happened at the Regional Headquarters on Wednesday, April 25th. Our doors swung open and in came a wonderful band of brothers and sisters.  Our cherished Red Cross retirees met for their annual meeting and in attendance were nearly 15 retirees with over 300 years of dedicated Red Cross service.

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Red Cross retirees pose with Regional CEO Mike Parks on April 25, 2018

Together with staff members, bread was broken, stories were shared (most of them true) and hearts were warmed.  One of the highlights occurred when John Gareis – our Preparedness Lead Specialist who has been with the Red Cross for 42 years – joined the group.  He knew many of the retirees and collectively they shared their stories.  The stories were wonderful and entertaining, but at heart was the obvious humanitarian and volunteer spirit that is the Red Cross.  And yes, the retirees appreciated greatly having John serve as a bridge from their Red Cross of years gone by to the same and different Red Cross that exists today.

We are nothing if we don’t remember our past or fail to honor the giants on whose shoulders we stand.  The comradery in the room was palpable and it truly is a testament to the great organization which we all have the privilege of being a part of.  It was humbling to be in a room of Red Cross giants!

To quote William Shakespeare, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and sisters).”

Festival of Trees Celebrates Silver Anniversary

Holiday Tradition Continues with Annual Fundraiser in Wooster

The room was beautiful, the food was abundant, and the mood was festive for the 25th Anniversary of the Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for Red Cross disaster relief in Wooster.

Highlights included a live auction of the beautifully decorated trees ringing the room, a special award given to John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager, and a special mission moment delovered by Nick Cleveland.  His family survived a home fire in Wooster last summer, and he called the immediate assistance provided by the Red Cross at the time extremely helpful.

See a photo gallery from the Festival of Trees on the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter Facebook Page, at  https://www.facebook.com/RedCrossLakeErieHeartland/.

If you missed the Festival this year, but would still like to help the Red Cross help families like the Clevelands, #GiveWithMeaning by donating to Red Cross disaster relief.  Log on to redcross.org, call 1-800 Red Cross, or text RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.