Backpacks & Volunteers Needed


Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are short 3,700 middle and high school backpacks.

You can help now by ordering brand new backpacks from your favorite retailer—LL Bean, North Face, High Sierra, Adidas, Herschel, Fjallraven, Patagonia or Sprayground, for example—in quantities of at least 10 please (we're unable to manage smaller deliveries at this time). Have them shipped to us directly at the following address:

Volunteers of America-Greater New York
135 West 50th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10020
ATTN: Andrew Zibell

Alternatively, we would appreciate if you can connect us with a supplier in your network by emailing

Backpack Specifications:

  • MUST measure 18 in. x 12 in. x 6 in. or larger
  • Thick, padded shoulder straps
  • Lined on the inside
  • Colors/patterns that would appeal to students in grades 5–8 or 9–12 

It is essential for middle and high school students to have a large enough backpack to carry all of the supplies they need for school. Please adhere to the size specifications above. Through Operation Backpack® we aim to help students who are homeless look and feel more like their classmates, and less like children in need. A beautiful, high-quality backpack that they can be proud of and show their friends will help achieve this.

NOTE: While we appreciate all efforts to support Operation Backpack®, we would prefer fewer backpacks of higher quality, rather than many backpacks of lower quality.


We're seeking volunteers to help prepare backpacks and supplies for shelter pick ups in August.

Because of COVID-19 and the significant changes to our operating procedures this year, all tasks will be very physical in nature. Volunteers will be required to stand for long periods of time, push/pull carts of backpacks and school supplies, and lift up to approximately 40 pounds.

Shifts are from 9am–1pm and 1pm–5pm, Monday through Friday running August 3 until August 28. Safety precautions will be in place, including the requirement that volunteers must wear a mask at all times, properly covering the mouth and nose. View full protocols here.

Please email if you are interested in volunteering.

Thank you for helping to ensure that children residing in New York City homeless and domestic violence shelters are equipped with the school supplies they need for a successful 2020-21 school year!