Updated 08/15/2012 11:47 AM
"Operation Backpack" Effort Really Piles Up
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Hundreds of volunteers are sorting and packing thousands of backpacks to get school supplies to needy children.
Volunteers of America's annual Operation Backpack is under way.
Teams have been dividing up supplies like pens, crayons, notebooks for the city's homeless kids.
Organizers say 8,000 backpacks were distributed last year, but this year's goal is 14,000.
They also point to a record number of families that have entered homeless shelters this year, making the need for supplies even greater.
The city's Department of Homeless Services says more than 10,500 school-aged children are in shelters -- 18 percent higher than at the same time last year.
"Volunteers of America has been doing this for years. It's just a community service and we never had any idea it would have to grow like this but we're hoping with New Yorkers as generous as they are, we're going to be able to fill the need," said Rachel Weinstein of Volunteers of America.
"Too often, sometimes, when kids who don't have the ability to get supplies, they walk into school they see their classmates have fancy backpacks and everything they need. And they feel badly. They start off the school year sort of not feeling good about themselves, not feeling ready to participate in school. This gives them a head start," said Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond.
For more information, visit operationbackpacknyc.org.