PORTLAND -- Portland area students are getting a new lesson about how to be prepared for a disaster.
The program from the American Red Cross centers on items you could fit into a single pillowcase.
“I think you engage students when you have them start thinking about if they had nothing in the world, what would they want to have in a pillowcase?” explained Becky Hunter of the Oregon Trail Red Cross chapter.
“[I would have] My most important things, like my favorite stuffed animal,” answered Sabin elementary third grader Tommy McLaughlin.
The Pillowcase Project was started as a result of what Red Cross volunteers saw after Hurricane Katrina: “Children were being rescued and coming to shelters with their most important belongings packed in pillowcases,” remembered Hunter.
The Disney company is paying for the pillowcases which feature some of the popular animated characters like Mickey and Pluto.
The Red Cross conducts two educational sessions and encourages the students to decorate their pillowcases and personalize them.
“My Dad helped me pack mine a little bit but mostly I was able to go into my room and find the stuff I would miss,” explained 3rd grader Tommy McLaughlin.
Tommy knows the pillowcase should also include a flashlight with batteries, water, a blanket and a change of clothes.
The Oregon Trail chapter was one of only a few selected in the country to pilot the project.
So far educators have taken it to two schools.
By January they expect the Pillowcase Project to expand, giving them the resources to educate 5,000 additional students this school year.
“I think it’s good for kids to start thinking about how they can be prepared personally and how their families can be prepared,” remarked Hunter.