Volunteers of America wraps seventh annual Operation Backpack drive with all-day drop-off events in Sacramento, Modesto

(Sacramento, Calif.) – Operation Backpack, Volunteers of America’s community drive for new backpacks and school supplies on behalf of children in need, officially ends July 22 with a pair of “drive-through/drop-off” events in Sacramento and Modesto.


In Sacramento, the public is invited to hand off donations to such popular KCRA 3 on-air personalities as Edie Lambert, Gulstan Dart, Kellie MacMullan, Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Adrienne Bankert, Teo Torres and Eileen Javora from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Tri Counties Bank Sacramento Arden Fair branch at 1760 Challenge Way, Sacramento.

 Volunteers of America staff and volunteers also will be out in force collecting curbside during the daylong event. For information on the Sacramento drive-through/drop-off event, call Volunteers of America Community Relations Manager Delia Estrada at (916) 442-3691, or e-mail her at deliae@voa-sac.org.


From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., KCRA News Team member Janet O will be reporting from Volunteers of America’s second drop-off location site curbside at the Stanislaus County Office of Education at 1100 H St. (between 11th and 12th streets), Modesto. Hosted by SCOE, Tri Counties Bank employees and SCOE staff will be collecting donations at its drive-through event. In August, the SCOE will collaborate with school district homeless liaisons to distribute backpacks to homeless students living within Stanislaus County. For more information on the Modesto Operation Backpack drop-off event, call SCOE Program Coordinator Victor Serrato at (209) 238-1506.

No need to wait until July 22, however

The Sacramento-area community was generous last year, and Operation Backpack 2010 garnered more than 4,000 backpacks. That figure showed that even in tough economic times, children in need command attention. It’s ambitious, but Volunteers of America hopes to collect 6,000 backpacks this year – still fewer than the number of school-age children experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County alone.

Some 150 drop-off locations are up and running through July 22, including 22 Tri Counties Bank branches, and more than 100 Starbucks stores.

Tri Counties Bank and Starbucks Operation Backpack drop-off sites will be identified by promotional posters featuring KCRA 3 news anchors Gulstan Dart and Edie Lambert.

Donations also will be accepted at the Volunteers of America administration office (1900 Point West Way, Suite 270, Sacramento) from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For a complete list of drop-off locations, or to download one of the four grade-specific school-supply lists, as well as informational fliers and mini posters, go online to OperationBackpackSac.org. Information on the many ways the community can support Operation Backpack – from contributing financially, to volunteering, to hosting a private drive at a workplace, at a house of worship, or through one’s service club – also can be found at OperationBackpackSac.org.

“Sacramento City Unified School District serves many students who live in shelters, run-down motels, in cars, on the street, etc.,” said SCUSD program director-homeless liaison Monica McRho. “With the economic crisis, many housed families are now on the brink of joining this homeless population. Despite the bleakness and uncertainty in their lives, these students have one thing in common ... they want to be in school with their peers. But they lack adequate school supplies, which leads to embarrassment and absenteeism. New backpacks and school supplies help motivate them to attend school, succeed in their work, and fit in with their peers. It is so rewarding to see the excitement and joy on their faces as they receive their backpacks. The students waste no time in opening them up, and pulling out the contents for everyone to see. It is a small thing to most of us, but means everything to them.”

Homeless children who attend school face a variety of challenges. Compared to other children, national statistics show they are:

• four times as likely to experience developmental delays

• twice as likely to have learning disabilities

• twice as likely to repeat a grade (most often due to frequent absences and moves to new schools)

Operation Backpack seeks to provide some sense of normalcy to these children’s lives – boosting their self-esteem by giving them new backpacks and school supplies so they may start the school year feeling more like “regular kids.”

Volunteers of America’s 2011 Operation Backpack campaign is presented by Tri Counties Bank, with additional sponsorship provided by PG&E, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Thunder Valley Casino Resort and KCRA 3.

Established locally in 1911, the Greater Sacramento & Northern Nevada affiliate of Volunteers of America is one of the largest providers of social services in the region, operating more than 40 programs in eight categories: homeless services; homeless shelters; substance abuse treatment and recovery services; senior services; youth services; transitional housing; permanent supportive housing; and low-income housing.

Volunteers of America Greater Sacramento & Northern Nevada boasts a paid staff of more than 300, and a volunteer roster of some 600 selfless community supporters.

Founded nationally in 1896 by Ballington and Maud Booth, Volunteers of America is dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Through thousands of human-service programs, Volunteers of America helps nearly 2 million people annually in more than 400 communities.

Volunteers of America’s mission of ending homelessness, supporting the most-vulnerable populations and transforming the community into a better place, depends on community-wide support of its clients, who include at-risk youth, seniors, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions.

For more information about Operation Backpack or Volunteers of America, please see the Volunteers of America website at volunteersofamerica-sac.org, call 916.442.3691, or email info@voa-sac.org.



Media contacts:

Christie Holderegger, Chief Development and Communications Officer

916.442.3691 (office); 916.213.4133 christie@voa-sac.org


Barry Wisdom, Public Relations & Marketing Officer

916.442.3691 (office); 916.821.0932 (cell); barryw@voa-sac.org