Going back to the beach is what many Staten Islanders have in mind for July.
It’s not a month when much thought is given to going back to school, but school is coming.
That’s why Operation Backpack, a campaign to provide children in need with school supplies, is now under way on Staten Island and elsewhere across the city.
During the July, you can donate a new backpack or other back-to-school items by dropping them off at any of the 10 Duane Reade drugstores on Staten Island.
Volunteers of America, the organizer of the citywide drive, hopes to fill the school needs of 14,000 children who are living in homeless and domestic violence shelters.
“Homelessness has a devastating impact on children’s education,” says Richard Motta, president and CEO of Volunteers of America-Greater New York. “We need to equip these children with all the tools to allow them to succeed in school, because we believe that education is key to breaking the cycle of homelessness.”
Operation Backpack, which began in 2001, does good year after year. Eight thousand students from over 100 shelters in the city benefited from the program in 2011.
For children living in homeless shelters, the benefits include more than just school supplies. according to actress Paige Davis, who is a VOA spokeswoman and the former TV host of TLC’s “Trading Spaces,”
“Through Operation Backpack, we try to bring normalcy into the lives of these children – so that when they go back to school they fit in, and look and feel like their classmates,” said Ms. Davis.
Volunteers of America began the annual campaign with 20 corporate sponsors. Now the drive is supported by over 140 companies, including Fed Ex, which donates pick-up and drop-off services.
Other leading backers of the program are Time Warner Cable, Frank Crystal Company, News Corporation and The Warnaco Foundation.
As in previous years, backpacks and supplies that are donated by the public and by corporate sponsors will be sorted by volunteers according to grade level and gender during Sort Week in August.
For example, high-schoolers get a dictionary, thesaurus and calculator along with their school supplies. The youngest children receive water colors, washable markers, hand sanitizers, tissues and other items.
Often in short supply and particularly needed by Operation Backpack are academic planners, calculators, USB flash drives and subject dividers.
The filled backpacks will be delivered to children in shelters in time for the beginning of school in September.
“The key to a good education is showing up, and showing up prepared,” said Seth Diamond, city Department of Homeless Services Commissioner. “Operation Backpack helps ensure that homeless children have the best possible start to their school year by making certain they have the proper supplies, and we are grateful for that.”
For information on needed items, drop-off locations or to make a cash donation, go to the program’s website (operationbackpacknyc.org).
- School supply donations begin Friday to ‘Stuff’ backpacks
- Staten Island Mental Health Society provides free services for Hurricane Sandy …
- Oklahoma charities, churches offer free back-to-school supplies
- Alameda church seeks donations for Operation Christmas Child
- Donated items refresh health, hygiene supply