When you start talking to Thama Logan about the Red Cross Pillowcase Project, it’s obvious she’s having fun. Through The Pillowcase Project, children learn to prepare for emergencies, then practice and share what they have learned. The Red Cross developed the project after residents of New Orleans stuffed necessities into pillowcases as they fled the flooding.
With 25 years of experience as an educator and librarian, Thama continues to be passionate about sharing knowledge with young people. A word she uses repeatedly is “relevant.” If you show kids how they can use what they’re learning, she says, they’re willing to learn. And they easily grasp the importance of what they learn through The Pillowcase Project.
“You empower them to help one another and to survive,” she says.
Presenters in The Pillowcase Project help elementary-age children prepare for and survive disasters such as floods and home fires. The children learn that they and their families need an escape plan. They learn what to put into an emergency kit – and what to leave out! They go home and prepare an emergency kit and keep it in a decorated pillowcase, ready to grab at a moment’s notice if necessary. And they share all of this information with their families.
“The kids can go home feeling empowered and talk to their parents about safety,” Thama says.
While Thama does do school presentations, her main audience is the children of military personnel. The Red Cross, through its Services to the Armed Forces (SAF), offers pre- and post –deployment services. When military staffers heard about The Pillowcase Project, they invited SAF volunteers to make presentations to military children during these events. Thama also does Pillowcase presentations every year to about 200 military children at an annual camp SAF offers on Kelly’s Island.
Thama began as a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team. Later, she applied for an AmeriCorps position at the Red Cross in SAF. Through that AmeriCorps positon, she received training as a presenter for The Pillowcase Project. Since then, she has completed extensive training to become an instructor.
“I just think that service at the Red Cross is so very important,” says Thama. “The training is second to none, and the camaraderie is phenomenal.”
“If the Red Cross has empowered me, let me empower someone else.”
Now Thama, lead instructor for The Pillowcase Project in Central Ohio, with the help of two other Red Cross Pillowcase presenters, is making Pillowcase training available monthly to Red Cross volunteers who want to become presenters. Thus, no one will have to wait longer than a month to be trained as a Pillowcase presenter.
For more information on The Pillowcase Project, go to www.redcross.org/pillowcase. For information on becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer. You can learn about Red Cross services to military personnel and their families at www.redcross.org/military-families.