Operation Backpack®

Volunteers of America-Greater New York’s signature community service campaign.

Family homelessness in New York City has been steadily on the rise in recent months—creating a greater demand for the school supplies we provide to children experiencing homelessness through Operation Backpack®. The educational resources we provide through Operation Backpack® play a critical role in higher rates of homework completion, class participation and, ultimately, graduation.

As the number of children living in shelters reaches a new record of 50,000, New York’s children need your support more than ever before.

Now in its 22nd year, VOA-GNY’s Operation Backpack® is a crucial tool in the fight to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. At a time when 1 in 9 NYC students are homeless, homelessness can significantly disrupt a child’s education, which can have a devastating impact on their future. Providing children experiencing homelessness with backpacks and school supplies goes a long way towards setting them up for success in the classroom and beyond. Our city’s children are depending on you.

Last year, hundreds of partners and volunteers stepped up to make this possible. Watch our video recapping the 21st year of Operation Backpack® below.

How to Get Involved

  • SPONSOR. Become an official sponsor and enjoy benefits such as the opportunity to volunteer in-person filling backpacks at our warehouse in August. Email Ericia Antoine for more details & to participate.

  • COLLECT. Hold a backpack drive and/or packing event in your office, school or community to donate new, backpacks filled with school supplies. Email Paige O’Brien for more details & to participate.

  • FUNDRAISE. Create your own fundraising team and raise money among your colleagues, family and/or friends.

  • DONATE. Make a gift to VOA-GNY on our fundraising page to support this important work. To send a check, make it out to Volunteers of America-Greater New York. Checks can be sent to:

    Volunteers of America-Greater New York
    135 West 50th Street, 9th Floor
    New York, NY 10020

For other ways to get involved, contact us.
Phone: (212) 496-4389 • operationbackpacknyc@voa-gny.org

About the Campaign

As an anti-poverty organization, 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 vital role in homework completion, class participation, and, ultimately, graduation.

For more than 20 years, VOA-GNY has given tens of thousands of children experiencing homelessness a sense of normalcy during the back-to-school season through Operation Backpack®. The children living in New York City homeless shelters rely on us each school year, and we rely on you—our corporate and community partners—to make this initiative possible through sponsorships, in-kind donations, and fundraising.

News About Operation Backpack®

  • PIX 11 and News12 Bronx Cover Operation Backpack® Back-to-School Giveaways

    PIX 11 and News12 Bronx reported on VOA-GNY’s 2023 Operation Backpack® giveaway for students living at Legacy Family Residence, one of our family shelters in Brooklyn.


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

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


  • School Supplies are Vital to a Student’s Academic Readiness: Op-Ed by VOA-GNY Assistant Vice President Leslie Armstrong

    In an op-ed published by amNY, Leslie Armstrong, VOA-GNY’s Assistant Vice President of NYC Emergency Housing and Shelter Services, shares the importance of our Operation Backpack® campaign in helping students experiencing homelessness start the school year on an even playing field with their peers.


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