Program aims to help foster youth and children in shelters succeed in school

Sacramento, California – Tuesday, July 16, 2019 – Volunteers of America (VOA) launched Operation Backpack, an annual school supply drive that raises funds and collects backpacks and school supplies to assist students in need. In the campaign’s first 24 hours, 782 filled backpacks have been collected and donated.

Now in its 13th year, VOA’s Operation Backpack campaign collects and distributes backpacks to homeless, at-risk and foster children from pre-school to high school levels throughout the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento Area, and Reno regions as well as partners with local non-profits for distribution to students with demonstrated need.

One of the most devastating consequences of family homelessness is the impact it has on a child’s education. Children who live in poverty or are homeless face many challenges and tremendous stigmatization – as a result, less than 25% graduate from high school. Preparing these children for school with a new backpack filled with school supplies boosts their self-esteem and gives them the tools and confidence needed to learn and thrive in school. “We hope the community will respond generously to ensure that children whose families are in crisis are able to return to school this fall with all the tools they need to succeed in the new school year,” says Ana Bankert, VOA Development Officer, Foundations & Corporate Giving.

Last year, thanks to nearly 260+ corporate and other community partners, 9,000 children in Northern California & Northern Nevada received a new backpack filled with school supplies.

This year, Sutter Health, Golden 1 Credit Union, CBS, Phoong Law, Jamba Juice, Basin Street Properties, and a variety of local non-profit organizations and businesses, are sponsoring this effort by donating funds and hosting donation drop off sites throughout Northern California.

“Operation Backpack gives disadvantaged students a fresh start as they prepare for a new school year with a new backpack filled with school supplies,” says Sutter Health External Affairs Associate Tommy Trejo. “Starting school with the same tools as other children helps these kids feel like a part of the class, which boosts their confidence to learn and, ultimately, gives children a better chance to be successful in school.”

Community members interested in supporting Operation Backpack are encouraged to make a gift through VOA’s donation page at www.operationbackpackncnn.org or mail a check to VOA-OPB, 3434 Marconi Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95826. Donations of new backpacks and grade-appropriate school supplies are also welcome.

Beginning July 15 through 26, backpacks and other classroom materials such as paper, crayons, scissors, pencils, pens, glue, markers, folders, and erasers can be donated via at any one of 116 donation bins across Northern California. Local donation drop-off sites are listed below and at www.operationbackpackncnn.org. For more information on donating or sponsoring the program, contact Ana Bankert at (916) 265-3966 or abankert@voa-ncnn.org.