Operation Backpack®

Operation Backpack® is a community service of Volunteers of America-Greater New York that provides new, top quality backpacks filled with grade-specific supplies to any child living in a New York City homeless or domestic violence shelter who needs one. Throughout the month of August, during our "Sort Weeks," more than 2,100 volunteers helped quality control, sort, fill and prepare backpacks for delivery to the shelters.

In 2019, thanks to our Official Sponsors and corporate and other community partners, Operation Backpack® fulfilled every shelter request and provided 19,000 children with a full backpack in time for the first day of school. This way, they start the year looking and feeling more like their housed classmates and less like a child in need.

How to Get Involved in Operation Backpack® 2020

  • OFFICIAL SPONSORSHIP. To help underwrite the 2020 campaign and enjoy all of the benefits that come with sponsorship, it's best to commit early. Contact Rachel Weinstein at rweinstein@voa-gny.org or (212) 496-4305 to learn more.

  • DONATE. To make an online donation, visit the Operation Backpack® fundraising page. All funds raised after September 15, 2019 will go toward the 2020 campaign. 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 New York City community and beyond has the opportunity to change this story. 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 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