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Monday, 15 July 2013 21:30

Paige Davis and Volunteers of America Collects Backpacks for NYC Students with Operation Backpack 2013



Public Drive to Collect Backpacks and School Supplies
For NYC’s Homeless Children
Now Through August 9th

(New York, NY) Paige Davis, Broadway stage actress (Chicago and Boeing Boeing) and well-known TV host of TLC's Trading Spaces and OWN’s Home Made Simple, is the spokesperson for Volunteers of America-Greater New York’s (VOA) OPERATION BACKPACK® 2013. This annual campaign collects brand new backpacks and school supplies for the thousands of children living in New York City homeless shelters. The drive began Monday, July 15th and continues through August 9th. Volunteers 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.

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.

Paige Davis says,OPERATION BACKPACK® is one of the highlights of my year. It’s so gratifying to see the effort that our corporate sponsors, the general public 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 are prepared for the new school year with everything from pencils and crayons to flash drives and calculators, is simply inspiring.”

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

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."

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, Time Warner Cable, 21st Century Fox, RXR Realty, Wendy’s and Weeks Lerman.


Volunteers of America-Greater New York’s back-to-school drive began in 1999 as a small effort to collect school supplies for the children in its shelters. In 2001, with the support of the corporate community, the effort grew exponentially.  In 2004, the campaign was re-branded “OPERATION BACKPACK” to reflect its ambitious, new goal: to give every child in the New York City shelter system who needs one, a new backpack filled with grade-specific school supplies. OPERATION BACKPACK® is so successful that it is now held in VOA locations across the country.


Volunteers of America is one of the largest and most effective human services organizations in the nation. Locally, the Greater New York affiliate has more than 90 social services programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City, the Mid-Hudson region and in Northern New Jersey.  Award-winning programs, skilled and dedicated staff, and caring volunteers bring relief to tens of thousands of the most vulnerable men, women and children every year. From helping families who are homeless secure and retain permanent housing, to preparing preschool children with developmental delays for kindergarten, to providing a full continuum of services to veterans and to youth about to age out of foster care, VOA-Greater New York’s programs are designed to help our neighbors in need.

For more information about Volunteers of America, please visit

Last modified on Monday, 15 July 2013 21:32