VOA-GNY Distributes Backpacks and School Supplies to 19,000 Students Experiencing Homelessness Amongst Unprecedented Demand

Volunteers of America-Greater New York, an anti-poverty organization serving New Yorkers for over 125 years, distributed more than 19,000 backpacks to school-aged children living in the New York City homeless and domestic violence shelter system this year—the largest number ever served. This year marked VOA-GNY’s 21st annual Operation Backpack® campaign—a community-wide effort with the goal of ensuring that all children living in a New York City homeless shelter have the school supplies they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Over the past year family homelessness in New York City has been steadily on the rise, creating a greater demand than ever on Operation Backpack®. Having the requisite school supplies plays a critical role in higher rates of homework completion, class participation, and, ultimately, graduation, helping to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

“Even as family homelessness in New York City has continued to break records this year, we are proud to have provided new, high-quality backpacks full of grade-appropriate school supplies to our largest-ever number of children served through Operation Backpack®,” said Ericia Antoine, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Engagement and Special Events at VOA-GNY. “We are proud to help equip disadvantaged students have the basic tools they need to succeed academically and invest in helping break the cycle of family poverty and homelessness.”

VOA-GNY is entirely dependent on its supporters for Operation Backpack® with a number of prominent companies sponsoring this year’s campaign, including Loews CorporationCerberusWestfieldCMT Group, and PIX11. Award-winning actress and producer Julianne Moore was once again featured in a PSA for the campaign.

VOA-GNY launched Operation Backpack® in 2003 as an effort to collect school supplies for the children living in its own shelters and has since grown to become the largest back-to-school drive in New York City. In the two more than decades since its founding, more than 270,000 children have received backpacks and school supplies through the campaign. VOA-GNY has been the exclusive partner of the NYC Department of Education in these efforts.

Watch news coverage of two Operation Backpack® distribution events.

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