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Operation Backpack®


Operation Backpack® is a community service of VOA-Greater New York with the goal of ensuring that every child living in a New York City 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.

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. It would have been easy to say "not this year," but you didn't let that happen.  Together with the help of thousands of donors as well as our partners, we fulfilled every shelter request and provided backpacks to 18,000 students experiencing homelessness.

How to Get Involved in Operation Backpack®

  • OFFICIAL SPONSORSHIP. Help underwrite Operation Backpack® 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