• Gloucester Co. Students Learn to Use Pillowcases to Get Hurricane Ready

    May 30, 2018 4:22 PM EDT
    By Kimberly Kerr, SNJ Today Reporter


    The official start of hurricane season is just days away.

    So, on Wednesday, May 30th, volunteers from the American Red Cross New Jersey Region took a trip to General Charles G. Harker School, in Woolwich Township, to make sure local third graders are ready for any weather event that may come their way.

    “The Pillowcase Project is our national youth preparedness program where we teach third to fifth graders about different types of hazards that could happen,” said Kristee Lauro, the Pillowcase Project coordinator for American Red Cross New Jersey Region.


    Here in New Jersey they focus on hurricanes, winter storms, home fires and thunderstorms.

    “We teach the students different things that could happen so they learn about emergencies," said Lauro. "And then we practice different things that they can do in order to be prepared so if something were to happen they know what to do.” 

    Students were eager to tell SNJ Today the lessons they picked up during today's program. 

    “I learned weather safety and how to be prepared for all weather,” said Tucker Gregory, a third grader at General Charles G. Harker School.

    “How to be prepared for an emergency like a home fire or a hurricane and making sure everyone else is safe,” said Kaitlyn Rice, a third grader at the school.

    “For a fire you have to get out in two minutes or less [and] for a hurricane you should stay down until they say to get out,” said Reese Patterson, a third grader at the school.

    After the volunteers gave a lesson and a quiz on the preparedness, each student was given a pillowcase to decorate and later fill with items they may need in the event of an emergency.

    A couple of students shared their thoughts of what they learned from the volunteers about what items can be placed in the pillowcase. 

    “To fill up things like entertainment, water, food,” said Sullivan Keith, a third grader at General Charles G. Harker School.

    “All the things I need, like a toothbrush, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a pillow,” said Kayla Zlatkin, a third grader at the school.

    The nationwide program targets third to fifth grade students and this week will mark the one-millionth child trained since the program started six years ago.

    “And here in New Jersey we’ve trained over 20,000 kids alone,” said Lauro.

    And it doesn’t stop there. The last component of this program is sharing. The volunteers with the American Red Cross name each student an ambassador in hopes they’ll go home and share the importance of being prepared with their friends, families, and siblings.

    “So it’s not just teaching one student,"said Lauro. "The Pillowcase Project is really teaching the entire family."