While our main business practice here at Financial Technologies Forum is to offer conferences and events to the financial services industry, we are not all business all the time. For the second year in a row, FTF supported Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpackinitiative that entails collecting and distributing backpacks to NYC’s homeless children. While we didn’t exactly skip down the aisles of Staples like the parents do in those endearing back to school commercials, we definitely went shopping with a spring in our step.
For those of you that might not know, the Volunteers of America Back-to-School drive began back in 1999 as a small effort that collected school supplies for the children in the NYC area shelters. In 2002, the campaign was reorganized and rebranded as Operation Backpack to reflect its ambitious, new goal: to give every K-12 child in the New York City shelter system a backpack filled with supplies needed for their specific grade year.
Through this experience we learned that one of the most devastating consequences of homelessness is the impact it has on a child’s education. We were shocked to learn that nearly 11,000 school-age children live with their families in a New York City homeless shelter on any given day. Most of these children will go back to school in September without the basic school supplies they need to succeed and excel.
Thanks to Operation Backpack however, more homeless children are going back to school with fresh boxes of crayons, graphing calculators, pens, pencils, paper, folders, erasers, rulers, planners, book bags, paint, markers, paper and much, much more. Last year more than 6,000 children in shelters throughout NYC received new filled backpacks, and this year they raised the bar to 9,000.
FTF recognizes the need to give back and with the help of many generous donations, we gathered almost $1,000 worth of supplies creating over 6 filled backpacks with a big bag of extra supplies on the side because well, we can’t pass up a good bargain. During our drive, there was nothing more rewarding and motivating than seeing our collection container overflow with new school supplies. The generosity of our donators was moving. We found added reward by participating in the sort on August 13th. As you can see from our photos, there was a sea of donated backpacks that the FTF team helped sort and fill so they could be delivered in time for the start of the school year. It’s amazing how with everyone’s schedule and agenda, New Yorkers still find the time to pull together, and provide aid to those in need.
Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us out this year! We hope you will join our team next year to fill even more backpacks. For those of you who still want to participate this year, it’s not too late. You can make a donation directly to Operation Backpack through our dedicated donation page.
With the new school year only days away, we can’t wait to team up again with Volunteers of America to start collecting donations for their holiday toy drive!