Volunteers of America-Greater New York (VOA) will launch OPERATION BACKPACK®2013, its annual campaign to collect brand new backpacks and school supplies for the thousands of children living in New York City homeless shelters. The drive begins on Monday, July 15th and continues through August 9thVolunteers of America-Greater New York is one of more than fifteen VOA affiliates nationwide that conducts OPERATION BACKPACK® drives to outfit homeless students with new backpacks filled with grade-specific school supplies.   www.OperationBackpackNYC.org

In a continuing partnership with Volunteers of America-Greater New York, 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 140 companies, schools and other community, civic and religious groups participate in the Greater New York campaign, with new partners joining each year.

3kids Op BackPackThe 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.

Over the past decade, OPERATION BACKPACK® has achieved tremendous results.  Last year, Volunteers of America-Greater New York distributed 13,500 backpacks. The campaign helps not only the children who reside in Volunteers of America shelters, but also children in shelters run by other providers throughout New York City. In 2012, children in more than 100 shelters benefited from OPERATION BACKPACK®. This year, Volunteers of America-Greater New York hopes to fill 15,000 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.

Rachel Weinstein, Vice-President/Chief Development and Communications Officer of Volunteers of America-Greater New York, speaks of the importance of the program. “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. A new backpack and school supplies can make the difference between a child being excited to go to school and refusing to go at all, so OPERATION BACKPACK® fills an important need.  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 (Broadway’s Chicago and Boeing Boeing), is a VOA Board Member and spokesperson for the campaign.  “OPERATION BACKPACK® is one of the highlights of my year,” she says. “It’s so gratifying to see the effort that our corporate sponsors and volunteers of all ages put into this campaign, sorting and filling thousands of backpacks. Knowing that people from all walks of life come together to ensure these kids start the school year off right, with everything from pencils and crayons to flash drives and calculators, is simply inspiring.”

“I want to applaud the service that Volunteers of America has committed to students in our schools by making sure our children have the right school supplies to help them in their classes in the upcoming school year,” NYC Department of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said. “VOA is a true partner in helping us to prepare our students to excel in school.”

“Education is an invaluable tool that unlocks a child’s future,” said NYC Homeless Services Commissioner Michele Ovesey. “OPERATION BACKPACK® helps prepare New York City’s children to succeed in the year ahead, and we thank Volunteers of America for their support in this important endeavor.”

In addition to support from Duane ReadeFedEx 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, Time Warner Cable, 21st Century Fox, RXR Realty, Wendy’s and Weeks Lerman.

Volunteers of America affiliates across the country are conducting OPERATION BACKPACK® drives that will benefit children in many states and major metropolitan areas including: the Chesapeake area, the Bay area, Chicago, Colorado, Delaware Valley, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, Greater Los Angeles, Greater Ohio, Northern California, Northern Nevada, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania and the Southeast. For a full listing of participating affiliates, visitwww.OperationBackpackUSA.orgwww.OperationBackpackNYC.org


For more information about Volunteers of America, please visit www.voa-gny.org