Operation Backpack®

Operation Backpack® 2019 Sort Weeks are Underway!

Operation Backpack® is a community service of Volunteers of America-Greater New York that provides new, top quality backpacks filled with grade-specific supplies to any child living in a New York City homeless or domestic violence shelter who needs one. Throughout the month of August, during our "Sort Weeks," more than 2,000 volunteers help quality control, sort, fill and prepare backpacks for delivery to the shelters.

Last year, thanks to our Official Sponsors and 332 corporate and other community partners, Operation Backpack® provided 20,000 children with a full backpack in time for the first day of school. This way, they started the year looking and feeling more like their housed classmates and less like a child in need. 

In order to reach our goal this year, our immediate need is financial. If you are in the position to become a financial sponsor, see the information below and please reach out. We also invite you to form a fundraising team, make an online donation, or send a check today in any amount you can. On behalf of the children who will benefit from you generosity, thank you!

How to Get Involved in the 2019 Campaign

  • OFFICIAL SPONSORSHIP. To help underwrite the 2019 campaign and enjoy the benefits that come with sponsorship, watch this video or contact Rachel Weinstein, Operation Backpack® founder at rweinstein@voa-gny.org or (212) 496-4305.

  • DONATE. To make an online donation, visit the Operation Backpack® fundraising page. To send a check, make it out to Volunteers of America-Greater New York and include Operation Backpack® in the subject line. Checks can be sent to:

Volunteers of America-Greater New York
135 West 50th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10020
Attn: Rachel Weinstein

      For other ways to get involved contact us.

      About Operation Backpack®

      One of the most devastating consequences of homelessness is the impact it can have on a child's education. Frequent school transfers and the stigma associated with living in a shelter add up to great hardship for these children. If not for Operation Backpack®, many of these children would begin the school year with another disadvantage: unlike their classmates, they would enter the classroom with no backpack and few, if any, school supplies. So on day one, these kids would be identified as "disadvantaged" or worse — "shelter kids" — setting the stage for their entire school year.

      But the New York City community and beyond has the opportunity to change this story. The success of Operation Backpack® relies 100% on support from the community in the form of financial underwriting, donations of product and services and spreading the word and engaging others in the campaign. Each year since 2004, Volunteers of America-Greater New York has been distributing new backpacks filled with grade-specific school supplies to homeless children throughout New York City. This year, thanks to the generosity of thousands of people who live in, work in, or otherwise care about New York City, we believe that we will be able to give every student living in a homeless or domestic violence shelter who needs one, a new, full backpack.

      Watch a video about the impact that Operation Backpack® makes in the lives of NYC students who are homeless:


      Operation Backpack® News

      • August 21, 2019

        "AM New York" Profiles Operation Backpack®

        AM New York explains how Operation Backpack® provides full, high-quality backpacks to 20,000 students experiencing homelessness across New York City through community donations and volunteer support.

      • August 9, 2019

        Operation Backpack® 2019 Featured on NY1

        NY1 reports on Operation Backpack® 2019 featuring an interview with Steven Banks, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Social Services. Joslyn Carter, Administrator of the NYC Department of Homeless Services, was also in attendance.

      • August 8, 2019

        Operation Backpack® 2019 Featured on CBS2

        CBS2 shares a behind-the-scenes look at Operation Backpack® 2019 Sort Week and the partners and volunteers that are making it all possible.