Today’s news:

Backpacks for homeless children

For the ninth consecutive year, Volunteers of America has begun OPERATION BACKPACK 2011, the largest back-to-school drive in the city.

Campaign partners throughout the city, including all Duane Reade stores, are now accepting donations of new backpacks and school supplies through July 24.

On July 25, after the conclusion of the collection, Fed Ex will contribute an entire day of services to collect, sort and deliver the donations in a space provided by a local real estate partner.

In response to the growing number of families in the shelter systems,Duane Reade and Volunteers of America have extended the collection to four weeks. Last year, Volunteers of America distributed more than 7,000 filled backpacks to children throughout the Greater New York area. This year, with more than 70 companies and groups supporting the cause, the goal is to help more than 9,000 children.

Operation Backpack started in 1999 as a small effort to collect school supplies for children in shelters. In 2003, the campaign was re-invented with a new goal in mind: To give every school-aged child in the New York City shelter system a new, grade-specific backpack filled with school supplies. One of the most devastating consequences of homelessness is the impact it has on a child’s education. Through Operation Backpack, children living in homeless shelters are able to begin school with confidence like their housed counterparts.

Volunteers of America is one of the nation’s oldest and largest human services organizations, and serves nearly 50,000 people in the New York area yearly. They aim to empower men, women, and children to live safe, productive, and healthy lives.

The people Volunteers of America serve face issues with anything from older adults wishing to age at home rather than an institution to youth about to age out of foster care. This practical and compassionate support fromVolunteers of America—Greater New York gives aid to thousands of people in our community each year.

The public is urged to drop new backpacks and school supplies at any Duane Reade in New York City now through to July 24.

For more information on how to donate and how to be involved please log on to OperationBackpackNYC.org.

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