Operation Backpack®

VOA-Greater New York's signature community service campaign

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URGENT Update (08/19/22)


New York City is experiencing an unexpected surge in the number of families entering the shelter system. Many are asylum-seeking families who have endured an exhausting and traumatic journey cross-country on a bus. We are already seeing an increase in the need for school supplies through Operation Backpack®. Please donate now (or donate a little more, if you can) to help ensure these families have the essentials they need to thrive.



As an anti-poverty organization working to end homelessness, we know that helping children succeed in school is critical to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. We also know that having a full complement of school supplies plays a role in higher rates of homework completion, class participation and, ultimately, graduation.

Over the last 20 years, VOA-Greater New York has given tens of thousands of children experiencing homelessness a sense of normalcy during the back-to-school season through Operation Backpack®, a program that provides backpacks and grade-specific school supplies to every student living in a New York City homeless shelter. The kindness and generosity of supporters like you enable us to provide them with the supplies they need to have a successful academic year, just like their more privileged peers.

Last year, thanks to your support, we provided school supplies to all 15,000 children living in NYC shelters, sending the message that they are important and we are invested in their future.

How to Get Involved

  • DONATE. Make a gift to VOA-Greater New York on our fundraising page to support this important work.

    To send a check, make it out to VOA-Greater New York and include Operation Backpack® in the subject line. Checks can be sent to:

    VOA-Greater New York
    135 West 50th Street, 9th Floor
    New York, NY 10020
  • FUNDRAISE. Create your own fundraising team and raise money among your colleagues, family and/or friends.

  • BE SOCIAL. Spread the word on social media by following and tagging @voagny on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
For other ways to get involved, contact us.
Phone: (212) 496-4389
operationbackpacknyc@voa-gny.org

About the Campaign

Operation Backpack® is a community service of Volunteers of America-Greater New York with the goal of ensuring every child living in a New York City homeless shelter has the school supplies they need to succeed in the classroom—and beyond!

One of the most devastating consequences of homelessness is the impact it has on a child's education. Frequent school transfers and the stigma associated with living in a shelter add up to great hardship for children. If not for the school supplies provided by VOA-Greater New York, many of these students would begin the school year with another disadvantage: unlike their classmates, they would enter the classroom with few, if any, school supplies.

But the community in New York City and beyond has the opportunity to change this story by supporting VOA-Greater New York in the form of financial underwriting, donations of product and services, and word-of-mouth to engage others in the Operation Backpack® campaign. Each year since 2003, VOA-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 a full complement of school supplies to every student living in a homeless or domestic violence shelter who needs them.

News About Operation Backpack®

  • August 16, 2022

    VOA-Greater New York and Operation Backpack® Featured on CBS Evening News

    Meg Oliver, reporter for CBS, speaks to VOA-Greater New York client Krystal and her son Kyle, who

    Meg Oliver, reporter for CBS, speaks to VOA-Greater New York client Krystal and her son Kyle, who has received several backpacks through Operation Backpack®. The segment features VOA-Greater New York board member Paige Davis and program director Anton Nimblett.

  • August 15, 2022

    Helping Students Experiencing Homelessness Head Back to School Without Stigma: Op-Ed by Myung J. Lee

    VOA-Greater New York's President & CEO writes about the importance of Operation Backpack® to help

    VOA-Greater New York's President & CEO writes about the importance of Operation Backpack® to help address the widening gaps in our education system in this op-ed published by City Limits, and how the campaign is contributing to our efforts to end homelessness in Greater New York.

  • July 20, 2022

    VOA-Greater New York Partners with Shipt for Community Event

    CBS covers the event held in SoHo on July 20, hosted by VOA-Greater New York and Shipt, one of

    CBS covers the event held in SoHo on July 20, hosted by VOA-Greater New York and Shipt, one of this year's Operation Backpack® sponsors.