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Commissioner Ovesey Participates in Operation Backpack

On Thursday, August 15, Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Michele Ovesey joined non-profit provider Volunteers of America (VOA) of Greater New York to kick off the back-to-school season by taking part in Operation Backpack 2013.

The annual endeavor, which collects new backpacks and other school supplies for children in City shelters, strives to ensure that all youngsters are adequately equipped for the school year ahead. This year’s campaign aimed to gather a total of 15,000 backpacks — 1,500 more than in 2012. 

At Thursday’s event, Commissioner Ovesey and Department of Education (DOE) Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi, VOA President & CEO Claire Haaga Altman, Vice President of Communications Rachel Weinstein, Operation Backpack spokesperson Paige Davis, and a multitude of volunteers and staff sorted and stuffed backpacks, filling them with a variety of age-specific school supplies.

“Feeling prepared for school gives children confidence and sparks their interest in learning,” said Commissioner Ovesey. “As DHS continues our efforts to promote the importance of education and regular academic attendance, we want to thank VOA for its extraordinary efforts with this undertaking on a yearly basis.”

Launched in 1999 as a small-scale initiative to gather necessary items to help New York’s homeless families prepare for school, Operation Backpack has grown exponentially over the course of the last decade. The drive has now expanded to more than 15 VOA affiliates nationwide. 

The overwhelming success of the campaign could not be achieved without the partnership of key corporate sponsors, which include Duane Reade, FedEx, HSBC Bank USA, HarperCollins, Van Wagner, Time Warner Cable, 21st Century Fox, RXR Realty and Weeks Lerman. In total, more than 140 companies, schools and other community, civic and religious groups participate in the Greater New York campaign, with new partners joining each year. 

Learn more about Operation Backpack