Operation Backpack sheds light on homeless
Five Baruch College undergraduate students collaborated to organize the event titled “Operation Backpack Fundraiser” on Wednesday, April 19. The event’s objective was to raise awareness for homeless children in New York City and to ensure that every school-aged child begins the school year with a brand new, filled backpack.
This began when Elaine Farrah, Jenny Ng, Felicia Wondolowski, Erica Yang and Ahmad Zafar were instructed to do a philanthropy project for their group communications class.
“We hung out together and brainstormed. We discussed the causes we cared about, which included children, education and the arts. We narrowed it down to children, looked up non-profit organizations in New York City and discovered Operation Backpack. We wanted to help this organization,” Ng explained.
Operation Backpack serves thousands of families with a mission to guarantee that the backpacks of children are filled with supplies to help them feel prepared and self-assured when walking into school. Family homelessness is at its peak with almost 16,000 homeless families and more than 23,000 children living in New York City’s homeless shelters. The 200 sponsors and partners of the organization helped every school-aged child living in a New York City homeless or domestic violence shelter go to school with a backpack filled with supplies in 2016.
Every backpack holds supplies according to the child’s grade. For example, a high school student will receive an item such as a scientific calculator and a younger child receives washable markers.
“The idea is to do good by reaching out to help others and invest in our New York City community. Homeless children go to the same school as kids with a home. Since they have no supplies, what better way to reach out and bring attention to this cause?” Wondolowski said.
Wondolowski revealed that they planned this event for two weeks. The group members met six times to prepare the posters and baked goods.
Ng added that they would meet at the library after class and discuss what items they needed to bake. They marketed their event on social media, using sneak peeks in order to promote the event.
“We also went to the club suite before the event to meet with different clubs. They were so nice and gave donations right then and there,” said Ng.
Wondolowski said that this was her favorite part, as the group members came together. Planning the event went well.
“I want students to take away that it is important to invest in the future generation. By helping the future, we help today,” she said.
Students were encouraged to learn more about Operation Backpack and Volunteers of America—who serve the five New York City boroughs, Northern New Jersey and Westchester County—on the Volunteers of America website. Students can support the campaign by going on the website CrowdRise, a platform for charitable causes, and clicking on Baruch Backpacks.
“It is about positivity—do good things, give back and good things will come your way,” Wondolowski said.