Operation Backpack: the Back Story
OPERATION BACKPACK GIVES NEW YORK CITY'S HOMELESS STUDENTS A FULLY STOCKED BACKPACK AND A GREAT BOOST OF CONFIDENCE
The success of Operation Backpack® 2015 is entirely dependent on contributions from the public. Last year, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of corporate partners and thousands of individual donors and volunteers from New York City and beyond we were able to give all 18,400 children who needed one, a new, full backpack in time for the first day of school. Now in its second decade, Operation Backpack® is one more way Volunteers of America-Greater New York helps vulnerable children have some semblance of a "normal" childhood experience.
Currently there are nearly 25,000 NYC kids who call a shelter "home" and most are school age. One of the most devastating consequences of homelessness is the impact it can have on a child’s education. The stigma of being homeless weighs heavily on these children. If a child goes to school without a backpack or with few supplies, counting on a teacher to take notice and help, then the other children will also take notice, and see a child "in need" rather than just another classmate.
A new backpack full of new supplies can make the difference between a child being excited to go to school and dreading it. By giving the children backpacks and the same quality supplies as their classmates, it levels the playing field, gives these kids a sense of confidence and hope on that all-important first day of school. It also relieves the family of an expense they cannot afford or relieves them of guilt if they simply cannot fill the need.