Operation Backpack Launched to Collect School Supplies for Children in Need


Volunteers of America-Greater New York will launch OPERATION BACKPACK 2014 on July 14, the 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 banner

Volunteers of America-Greater New York 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. The drive begins on July 14 and continues through Aug. 8. 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 any age. Through participation, parents can find a fun and fulfilling summer activity for the whole family. 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. 

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.

How to Donate:

Operation Backpack shopping list
  • Beginning July 14, the public is encouraged to drop off new backpacks and supplies at any Duane Reade store in the five boroughs. 
  • Print out a list of the supplies required for each grade.
  • In addition, from July 13-24, 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. 
  • Donate online.
  • Companies and other community groups interested in donating to the campaign should contact Rachel Weinstein at rweinstein@voa-gny.org.

OPERATION BACKPACK® has achieved tremendous results.

  • Last year, VOA-GNY distributed a record-breaking 16,100 backpacks. 
  • 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.

Support for OPERATION BACKPACK® is appreciated by all involved.

“OPERATION BACKPACK® is one of the simplest and most effective ways in which VOA-GNY addresses the needs of the families we serve, most of whom are homeless,” said Claire Altman, VOA-GNY president and CEO. “We need to do everything we can to ensure the children in our care stay in school and earn a high school diploma, which is essential to breaking the cycle of family homelessness.”

Rachel Weinstein, VOA-GNY vice president/chief development and communications officer, and founder of OPERATION BACKPACK® added, “A new backpack and school supplies can make the difference between a child being excited to go to school and not wanting to go at all. And with the average cost of a filled backpack hovering around $81, we can relieve the financial burden that many parents face when making decisions for their families.” 

Paige Davis, well-known host of TLC's Trading Spaces and OWN’s Home Made Simple and seasoned stage actor, is a VOA-GNY Board Member and spokesperson for the campaign. “OPERATION BACKPACK® is one of the highlights of my year. It’s so gratifying to see the corporate community and the generous public come together to ensure these kids have the best possible chance at academic success. It’s inspiring to watch hundreds of volunteers lovingly pack each backpack with everything from pencils and crayons to flash drives and calculators. And when you see the joy on the faces of the children who receive a backpack, you know they will be counting down to the first day of school.”

“OPERATION BACKPACK® plays a vital role in preparing New York City’s children for school each year,” said NYC Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor. “We are thankful to Volunteers of America for its commitment to supporting our City’s students so that they may strive and, with hard work, succeed.” 

“I want to thank Volunteers of America for their tremendous efforts to provide our students with the necessary school supplies that will enable our students to walk into the classroom feeling prepared,” said NYC Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Ensuring that all students have the essential tools for school is paramount so they can be prepared and achieve. OPERATION BACKPACK® has been a true partner in this effort.”