Family homelessness is at a record high in NYC with nearly 13,000 families and more than 23,000 children living in the City's homeless shelters. (See the story of one young person who lived with us when he was homeless and how he benefited from Operation Backpack®.)

Last year, thanks to 200 sponsors & partners – every school-age child living in a NYC homeless or domestic violence shelter went to school with a brand new backpack, filled with supplies, looking and feeling more like their housed classmates and less like a child in need.

  • SPONSOR. To learn about the benefits of early sponsorship commitments contact Rachel Weinstein, Operation Backpack® founder, at See how two of last year's sponsors David Matera and the OOH Pitch Team were recently honored at our gala at The Plaza.
  • DONATE. To make an online donation go to CrowdRise. To send a check, make it out to Volunteers of America and include Operation Backpack® in the subject line. Checks can be sent to:

Volunteers of America-Greater New York
340 West 85 th Street
New York, NY 10024
Attn: Rachel Weinstein
or call (212-496-4311)

  • FUNDRAISE. Get your friends, family and colleagues involved. Form your own CrowdRise team here.
  • ORGANIZE. Talk with your building management about holding a drive this summer to collect backpacks and supplies. To learn more contact Andrew Zibell at
  • For other ways to get involved contact us here.

Meet some of the students who received new backpacks through this campaign.


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. Indeed, 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, work or 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 needed one, a new, full backpack.

Anyone can have a tough day, even Kevin Bacon. But can you imagine how a homeless child must feel on the first day of school?

Thank you to Operation Backpack® sponsors and our 2016 Gala honorees David Matera and the OOH Pitch Team for their continued support.