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Drew Brees makes pass for St. John kids

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish children will be better prepared in the event a hurricane strikes the River Region thanks to Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback and his wife donated $75,000 to the Brees Dream Foundation, matching a $75,000 donation from Chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum Companies Robert W. Merrick to help fund hurricane preparedness projects for students.

With the help of the Red Cross, St. John United Way Community Impact Manager John Olynick said some of the donated funds would be used to fund disaster preparedness programs for 2,400 kindergarten through eighth grade students in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools, hopefully for the start of the 2015-16 school year

“St. John was one of the parishes hardest hit by Hurricane Isaac,” Olynick said.

The supported campaigns are Masters of Disaster and The Pillowcase Project.

Masters of Disaster contains lessons, activities and demonstrations that can further reduce children’s anxiety about unknown aspects of disasters and tragic events. Lessons are enjoyable and interactive, ensuring everyone is having fun while learning important life skills through building capabilities in mathematics, language arts, social studies and science.

“Children will also gain confidence to deal successfully with life’s unexpected turns through this program,” Olynick said.

Through The Pillowcase Project, students learn about the science of hazards, emergency preparedness, coping skills and the importance of sharing their knowledge with friends and family. American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter CEO Kay Wilkins created the program.

“It teaches children how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase,” she said. “Pillowcases are easy to transport during an emergency and can be decorated and personalized.”

Brees said as the father of four young children, he knows disasters such as hurricanes can leave them feeling confused and scared.

“These pillowcases will help my children and hundreds of others,” he said.

Whether children have personally experienced trauma or have seen the event on television or heard it discussed by adults, they struggle to make sense of what they are seeing and hearing.

“I’ve been a lifelong supporter of United Way and the Red Cross,” Merrick said. “I am so excited to present this check to Drew Brees and his Brees Dream Foundation. We all care about kids and our community. Our collective investment will help children better understand and prepare for hurricanes and other disasters.”