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.

The 2017 Operation Backpack® campaign is Underway!

Nearly 20,000 school-age kids in New York City are homeless. But thanks to over 200 wonderful sponsors & partners – they began the 2016 school year with brand new, filled backpacks -- looking and feeling more like their housed classmates and less like a child in need.

The 2017 Operation Backpack® campaign is underway and there are a number of ways that you can help!

  • Donate to our CrowdRise campaign. These funds ensure that backpacks and supplies we need are purchased at the best possible price point. You can also form your own team here.
  • Become an official Operation Backpack® sponsor. To learn about the benefits of early sponsorship commitments contact Rachel Weinstein, Operation Backpack® founder and VP/Chief Development & Communications Officer, at
  • Organize a drive. Talk with your building management about holding a drive this summer to collect backpacks and supplies. To learn more contact Andrew Zibell at
  • Become an official drop location. Providing a safe & secure place for people to donate backpacks and supplies is an integral part of this campaign. To learn more about this unique opportunity 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.

Click here to meet Didi, one young man who benefited from Operation Backpack® and now gives back to the effort. Didi lived with his mother in our shelter on the Upper West Side. Now he's headed off to college, but Didi continues to volunteer when school is out.

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.