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Operation Backpack®


While all students are now equipped with their new backpacks and school supplies, ready to return to class, your financial support is still needed to ensure we can pay our vendors—without whom, we couldn't have delivered on our promise to the children.

Operation Backpack® is a community service of VOA-Greater New York with the goal of ensuring that every child living in a NYC homeless or domestic violence shelter has a top-quality backpack filled with grade-specific supplies in time for the first day of school. This way, students have the supplies they need not only do their work, but to enter the classroom on that all-important first day looking and feeling more like their classmates and less like a child in need.

In 2019, Operation Backpack® fulfilled every shelter request and provided backpacks to 19,000 children experiencing homelessness thanks to our Official Sponsors, corporate and other community partners and individuals in New York City and beyond.

This year we were forced to rethink Operation Backpack® due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis (learn more). Adjusting to this reality, we had to purchase a large quantity of product to replace what is normally donated, which requires significantly more funding—especially now, as vendor invoices become due. Please donate today to help support Operation Backpack®.

How to Get Involved in Operation Backpack® 2020

  • OFFICIAL SPONSORSHIP. Help underwrite Operation Backpack® 2020 by becoming an Official Sponsor. Contact Rachel Weinstein at or (212) 496-4305 to learn more.

  • DONATE. Make a gift to Operation Backpack® by visiting our 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 community in New York City and beyond has the opportunity to change this story. The success of Operation Backpack® relies 100% on public support in the form of financial underwriting, donations of product and services, and word-of-mouth to engage others in the campaign. Each year since 2003, 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.

      Operation Backpack® News