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Volunteers of America helps kids in need succeed through Operation Backpack | Community

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Volunteers of America helps kids in need succeed through Operation Backpack
Volunteers of America helps kids in need succeed through Operation Backpack

The start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children, but for Sacramento’s homeless children, it is a time fraught with emotional and academic challenges. Without even the most basic supplies, these students start at a disadvantage that only gets worse as the school year progresses.

Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack, which runs June 25 to July 13, aims at providing Sacramento’s youth in need with new backpacks and school supplies – tools they need to achieve academic success.

“This is our third consecutive year of partnering with Volunteers of America on Operation Backpack, and we are thrilled to once again help our local students in need,” said Tri Counties Bank Marketing Specialist, Jessica Freitas. “While a new backpack is such a small thing to most of us, for these kids it really makes a big difference. Tri Counties Bank is extremely proud to be a part of this amazing program that supports our at-risk and homeless youth in need throughout our local communities.”

The need for donation is greater than ever. This year, Volunteers of America has already received more than 7,000 requests for backpacks from non-profit organizations and school districts throughout the Sacramento region. According to the Sacramento County Children’s Report Card, the number of children reported as homeless in Sacramento County schools has increased by more than 50 percent over the past five years.

“There is no question that the number of homeless students has increased,” said Charlene Hunt, district liaison for Homeless Services Folsom Cordova Unified School District. “Unfortunately, as the number of homeless students rise, our pool of resources is shrinking. At a time when families are under enormous financial challenges, every bit helps. Something as simple as a new backpack and school supplies can make an enormous difference for these students.”

Volunteers of America invites the public to support the homeless and low-income children and their families by bringing new backpacks filled with school supplies to one of the more than 150 Operation Backpack drop-off locations, including Tri-Counties Bank branches and Starbucks stores. Donations will also be accepted at the Volunteers of America administration offices (1900 Point West Way, Suite 270, Sacramento).

Contributions may be brought to the daylong community drop-off event July 13 at the Tri Counties Bank Arden Way Branch parking lot, 1760 Challenge Way, Sacramento (6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). A complete list of drop-off locations and grade-specific school supply lists may be found at OperationBackpackSac.org. Information on the many ways the community can support Operation Backpack – from financial contributions to volunteering, to hosting a group drive at a workplace, house of worship or service club – are also available at OperationBackpackSac.org.

Homeless children attending school in the Sacramento area face a wide variety of challenges and long-lasting issues. Compared to other children, national statistics show they are:
•    four times as likely to have developmental delays
•    twice as likely to have learning disabilities
•    twice as likely to repeat a grade (usually due to frequent absences and moves to new schools)

Furthermore, The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that less than 15 percent of students in homeless situations are proficient in reading or math, and fewer than 25 percent graduate from high school.
Operation Backpack seeks to provide some sense of normalcy and remove one obstacle from homeless students’ lives. With a new backpack and new school supplies, students get to feel more like “regular kids” and can start the school year on more even footing.

Through the eighth-annual community drive, presented by lead sponsor Tri Counties Bank, media partner Clear Channel, and supporting sponsors PG&E, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, and Starbucks, Volunteers of America hopes to exceed last year’s distribution of 4,500 backpacks.


About Volunteers of America
Founded locally in 1911, the Greater Sacramento & Northern Nevada office of Volunteers of America is one of the largest providers of social services in the region, operating more than 40 programs in eight categories: homeless services; homeless shelters; substance abuse treatment and recovery services; senior services; youth services; transitional housing; permanent supportive housing; and low income housing. In fact, Volunteers of America provides shelter or housing to nearly 1,500 men, women and children every night in the Greater Sacramento area. Nationally, Volunteers of America was founded in 1896 by Ballington and Maud Booth with the purpose to help those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Through thousands of human-service programs, Volunteers of America helps nearly 2 million people annually in more than 400 communities.

For additional information on Operation Backpack or Volunteers of America Greater Sacramento & Northern Nevada, please visit www.voa-sac.org.
 

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