Volunteers of America Launches Operation Backpack to Help Homeless Kids

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As we are gearing up for our back-to-school coverage, we are excited to announce that Volunteers of America-Greater New York (VOA-GNY) will launch OPERATION BACKPACK® 2014, its annual campaign to collect brand new backpacks and school supplies for the thousands of children living in New York City homeless and domestic violence shelters.

Operation Backpack

The drive begins tomorrow (Monday, July 14th) and continues through August 8th. VOA-GNY is one of many VOA affiliates nationwide that conduct OPERATION BACKPACK® drives to outfit homeless students with new backpacks filled with grade-specific school supplies. OPERATION BACKPACK® is a great community service project for anyone of any age. Through participating, parents can find a fun and fulfilling summer activity for the whole family.

Operation Backpack

Assisting in OPERATION BACKPACK® can benefit a child by helping them appreciate their own belongings and allowing them to realize the importance of giving to those who are not as fortunate. Parents can inspire their kids to give back to their community by asking them to choose extra school supplies and backpacks to those less fortunate. No person is too small to help or too young to learn the significance of community service.

A filled backpack relieves parents of a financial burden and provides a sense of normalcy to the otherwise chaotic lives of these children, helping them look and feel more like their classmates. Most importantly, a filled backpack allows these children to start the school year feeling prepared and confident, with the knowledge that their education is important and that someone believes in them.

In a continuing partnership with VOA-GNY, every Duane Reade location in the five boroughs will accept donations of new backpacks and school supplies from the public during the drive. More than 150 companies, schools and other community, civic and religious groups participate in the VOA-GNY campaign, with new partners joining each year.

Beginning July 14th, the public is encouraged to drop off new backpacks and supplies at any Duane Reade store. To print out a list of the supplies required for each grade, please visit www.OperationBackpackNYC.org/fill. In addition, from July 13-26, Duane Reade will give customers the opportunity to donate at the register, giving the community another way to help and furthering the retailer’s commitment to the most vulnerable children in our city.

Each year since 2001 OPERATION BACKPACK® has achieved tremendous results. Last year, VOA-GNY distributed a record-breaking 16,100 backpacks. The campaign helps not only the children who reside in shelters operated by VOA-GNY, but also children in shelters run by other providers throughout New York City. In 2013, children in more than 170 shelters benefited from OPERATION BACKPACK®. This year, the need is even greater. VOA-GNY hopes to fill 16,500 new backpacks with grade-specific school supplies and distribute them to every child in the New York City shelter system who needs one in time for the start of the new school year.

In addition to support from Duane Reade, FedEx donates its pick-up and drop-off services, transporting thousands of backpacks from more than 100 corporate partners. They are sorted by volunteers according to grade level and gender during sort week in August and will be delivered to children in shelters prior to the start of school. Other generous corporate sponsors include: HSBC Bank USA, HarperCollins, Van Wagner, 21st Century Fox, RXR Realty and Weeks Lerman. Companies and other community groups interested in donating to the campaign should contact Rachel Weinstein at rweinstein@voa-gny.org.

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