BECKLEY — A 2019 Fayette County graduate was awarded a $2,500 scholarship after participating this spring in a service project through the American Red Cross of Southeast West Virginia. Abagail Carte, a 2019 graduate of Midland Trail High School, became involved in The Pillowcase Project through one of her courses at Fayette Institute of Technology.
Instructor Annette Ashley said Carte teamed up with other juniors and seniors to help with The Pillowcase Project at two elementary schools in Fayette County. The Pillowcase Project is a national program offered in schools, after-school programs, summer camps and other youth programs and events to teach those in third through fifth grade and their families how to prepare for disasters. Through the program, the Red Cross aims to empower children to prepare themselves, their households, and their communities for emergencies.
Carte says the service project was a memorable experience for a variety of reasons. “Participating in The Pillowcase Project gave me not just personal fulfillment,” she explained, “but it gave me the ability to encourage others to make a difference.”
Ashley believes it’s important for her students to be involved in community service. “They’re going to be health care providers and that’s what health care providers do,” she said. “We thought this was a good project to do because it got the information out to a lot of kids — 500 actually. They take that home and they tell their brothers and sisters and parents, so it’s not just those 500 kids, it reaches so many people in the community and helps them get prepared.”
Carte can use the AXA Achievement Scholarship at the school of her choice, but the 18-year-old says she has already been accepted to the nursing program at West Virginia University. Midland Trail High School also received $1,000 because of Carte’s efforts.
Created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project was inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations. The program is sponsored by Disney.
The Pillowcase Project curriculum is structured by three core principles: Learn, Practice and Share. Students learn about hazards, how to prepare for emergencies, enhance coping skills, practice what they have learned and share their knowledge with friends and family. The program emphasizes the importance of practicing protective actions, developing an emergency communications plan, and practicing a home fire drill.
The program also teaches students how to create their own emergency supplies kit by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during an emergency. Students have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases during the presentation and are encouraged to take them home to create a kit.
For more information about The Pillowcase Project or other volunteer opportunities, visit www.redcrosswv.org.