OPERATION BACKPACK 2014
Thanks to all you contributed to the campaign we distributed over 18,400 new, full backpacks.Operation Backpack simply would not exist without you.
We count on caring individuals and families, concerned groups of every kind and the corporate community, to ensure that New York City's homeless students have all the supplies they need in time for the first day of school.
More than 23,000 children live in a homeless or domestic violence shelter in NYC today, and in addition to the devastating impact homelessness can have on their education, the stigma attached to being homeless is a heavy weight, so anything we can do to help these children look and feel more like their classmates and less like a child in need, is great.
Operation Backpack began more than 10 years ago when we invited the public to donate their used backpacks for the children. Then actress Paige Davis lent her celebrity to the campaign and other stars, like Kevin Bacon, helped too. The outpouring of support grew and so did our goal: a new backpack filled with all the grade-specific supplies a child needed, for every school child living in any NYC shelter, not just our VOA shelters.
Last year, for the 2013 school year, 16,000 children received new, full backpacks. But we did it just barely. As usual, we were running out of supplies, from daily planners to graph paper – when a private foundation (Judith C. White Foundation) called and offered to make a cash gift, and that inspired us to keep plugging away. We hit up friends for second gifts, invited newcomers to donate, and raised enough money and contributions of product to make it happen. Check out what goes into the 9th-12th grade backpacks here
We always need money, product and other in-kind donations which is why we ask you to hold drives, purchase and fill backpacks, “adopt” a supply (500 boxes of crayons for instance) and fundraise on our behalf. Take your kids shopping for their school supplies and let them select and fill one for one of our kids; it’s a GREAT first introduction to philanthropy, Then we need hundreds of volunteers to sort supplies into backpacks in August and prepare them for pick up by the shelters.
A new, full backpack can make the difference between a child being excited to go to school and not wanting to go at all. It allows the children to start the school year feeling prepared and confident, with the knowledge that their education is important.
Donations are still coming in and being put to good use as we try to fulfill every request we received from shelters for backpacks.
Talk to us about organizing a drive for next year's campaign. Introduce us to your friends and family, be our champions and get your office supply company to donate in-kind product. Plus, individual and group volunteer opportunities abound, during Operation Backpack and throughout the year.
Please put Volunteers of America's Operation Backpack 2015 on your (and your company's) calendar for support next year. As early as next month we will begin seeking financial sponsors, product sponsors and others to ensure New York City's children who are homeless, benefit from Operation Backpack next year.