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Struggling with overwhelming need and low donations, Volunteers of America is extending their community drive in hopes of providing thousands of Sacramento area children with the school supplies they need to succeed.
“Donations are down this year,” explains Volunteers of America’s Christie Holderegger. “For every single backpack donated so far this year, there are four more children in need. Quite simply, struggling families put their limited resources to food and housing… school supplies are a luxury that cannot be afforded.”
In response to the growing number of requests for assistance from the community, Volunteers of America has extended Operation Backpack through August 3, 2012, hoping to collect more than 5,000 new backpacks. Operation Backpack seeks to provide backpacks and school supplies for homeless and at risk youth, through Volunteers of America shelters, school districts, churches and other homeless shelter providers
The Sacramento region has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Sacramento public schools have significantly higher numbers of homeless students than the national average, according to the Children’s Report Card. 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.
Volunteers of America is asking the Sacramento community to help support homeless and low-income children and their families by bringing new backpacks with school supplies to Operation Backpack drop-off locations, at Tri-Counties Bank branches and Volunteers of America administration offices (1900 Point West Way, Suite 270, Sacramento). Donations are also accepted online at OperationBackpackSac.org, or through Operation Backpack’s Amazon wishlist.
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.
About Operation Backpack:
Now in its eighth year, Operation Backpack started as a way to provide children in Volunteers of America’s homeless shelters with new supplies for the school year. Operation Backpack is presented by lead sponsor Tri Counties Bank; media partner Clear Channel; and supporting sponsors PG&E, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, and Starbucks. For more information on Operation Backpack, please visit OperationBackpackSac.org.
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.