'Operation Backpack' Collects School Supplies for Homeless Kids

RENO, Nev. - It's hard to believe Washoe County's students will be heading back to the classroom in five weeks. Thought the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children, for homeless children in the Truckee Meadows, it is an emotional time filled with 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 July 1-31, aims at providing local youth in need with new backpacks and school supplies – tools they need to achieve academic success.

Along with partners Dickson Realty, MXI Healthy Chocolate, ReMax Realty Affiliates, Kafoury Armstrong & Co., and WalMart, Volunteers of America hopes to double last year’s distribution of 400 backpacks to youth served by the Volunteers of America Family Shelter and ReStart programs, as well as homeless children served by the Washoe County School District (WCSD) Children in Transition program.

“This is our second 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 Mandy Brooks, co-founder of MXI Healthy Chocolate with her husband Andrew Brooks. “While a new backpack is such a small thing to most of us, for these kids it really makes a big difference. MXI Healthy Chocolate 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, WCSD Children In Transition will serve 3,000 homeless children in our community, and reports that the number of children reported as homeless in Washoe County schools has increased by more than 37 percent over the past three years.

“There is no question that the number of homeless students has increased,” said Katie Morales, WCSD Children in Transition Program Coordinator. “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 five Operation Backpack drop-off locations listed below. Donations will also be accepted at the Volunteers of America Resource Center, (335 Record St., Reno).

RE MAX Realty Affiliates, 10795 Double R Blvd., Reno, NV 89521
Dickson Realty 1030 Caughlin Crossing Reno, NV 89519
MXI Healthy Chocolate, 795 Trademark Dr. Reno, NV 89521
Kafoury Armstrong & Co., 6140 Plumas St., Reno, NV 89519
Walmart Supercenter, 155 Damonte Ranch Pkwy, Reno, NV 89521