VOACC Launches its 15th Annual Operation Backpack® Campaign

VOACC Contact: Nicholle Granger

June 10, 2024 | Lanham, md

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (VOACC) will launch its annual Operation Backpack® back-to-school campaign on July 1, 2024 in partnership with WJLA ABC7 News DC, FOX45 WBFF, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Royal Court Zeta chapter of the Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity, and the Prince George’s County Office of the Sheriff. The goal of this year’s campaign is to raise $50,000 and collect brand-new backpacks, supplies, and school uniforms to support at least 4,000 boys and girls from income-constrained families in Maryland, DC, Virginia & North Carolina.

Initiatives like Operation Backpack® play an important role in helping to fill the gap in academic proficiency for children who are underserved and have experienced homelessness. According to the National Center for Homeless Education, children experiencing homelessness are more likely to show delayed development and have twice the rate of learning disabilities compared to non-homeless children. Among children who experienced homelessness in the U.S. in 2018, less than 30 percent achieved academic proficiency in reading, mathematics, and science.

Funding to support Operation Backpack® is made possible through corporate sponsorships and individual donations. This year’s Operation Backpack® Champion Sponsors are Sentara Health and Michael & Son Services. VOACC is excited to have Sentara and Michael & Son Services increase their involvement in the campaign this year to support underprivileged youth. We are also excited to welcome back Wellpoint as a multi-year sponsor to support youth in the Maryland and DC areas.

“No child should have to go to school without the basic supplies needed to be successful. Operation Backpack® is an investment in the future of our community’s children. As we fill their backpacks up with school supplies, we are also filling the children up with confidence and hope for a bigger and brighter tomorrow.”

Sherry Norquist, Executive Director of Community Impact, Sentara

“We have always believed in helping the youth in our community. These students are the future of our community and I believe that it is our responsibility to help equip them with the right tools for success. We are proud to be sponsoring Operation Backpack, because we believe in the cause of education for everyone”

Basim Mansour, CEO, Michael & Son Services

As an integrated housing, health and human services nonprofit, VOACC understands that secure housing is just the first step to ensuring long-term health and independence. Through the Market Heights Neighborhood Program, our Community Outreach Specialist will build a network of support leveraging current and new service provider partnerships to connect residents to medical and dental services, mental health and wellness services, children’s activities and childcare, fresh food and other community assistance. 

From July 1 through September 1, VOACC and its partners invite the community to get involved by signing up to host supply drives within their communities, become a sponsor, start online fundraising teams, and make monetary donations. Supplies will be provided to students from income-constrained families in VOACC’s supportive housing and behavioral health programs as well as partnering Title 1 schools. Funds raised will also be used to address underlying barriers to long-term academic success by providing students and families most in need grocery store gift cards, gas cards, utility assistance and more.

To learn more about Operation Backpack®, visit www.voachesapeake.org/backpack.

About Sentara Health

Sentara Health, an integrated, not-for-profit health care delivery system, celebrates more than 130 years in pursuit of its mission – “we improve health every day.” Sentara is one of the largest health systems in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and among the top 20 largest not-for-profit integrated health systems in the country, with 30,000 employees, 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, and the Sentara Health Plans division which serves more than 1 million members in Virginia and Florida.

Sentara is recognized nationally for clinical quality and safety, and is strategically focused on innovation and creating an extraordinary health care experience for our patients and members. Sentara was named to IBM Watson Health’s “Top 15 Health Systems” (2021, 2018), and was recognized by Forbes as a “Best Employer for New Grads” (2022), “Best Employer for Veterans” (2022, 2023), and “Best Employer for Women” (2020).

To learn more about Sentara, visit www.sentara.com or www.sentara.com/news.

About Michael & Son

Michael and Son has been dedicated to serving the Mid-Atlantic community since 1976 with essential home services. Today, we are now one of the largest family-owned and operated home service companies in the region and we are always looking to give back to the community that built us. Since 2010, we have created the “Michael and Son Cares Foundation”. To date, we have provided over $1 million dollars in-home services and donations to local area schools.

To learn more about Michael & Son Services, visit https://michaelandson.com/

About Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (“VOACC”) is a faith-based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire self-reliance, dignity, and hope through housing, health and human services.

At VOACC, we have been helping to create Healthy Communities for All for over 127 years by aligning housing, health and human services. We actively pursue health equity by filling the gap in housing and care for underserved populations, including those who are experiencing homelessness, low-income, underinsured or uninsured, justice-involved and veterans. By offering integrated housing and care, we address the social determinants that impact the long-term stability for those in need.

Through a dedicated team of management, staff and volunteers who are guided by our Core Values – Visionary, One Body, Integrity, Compassion, Excellence, and Faith – we are the safety net for thousands of men, women and children each year across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and the Carolinas. We operate over 49 programs focused on 8 areas of service: homeless services, affordable housing, mental health, substance use recovery, intellectual/developmental disabilities services, community re-entry, veteran services and workforce development.

VOACC has over 900 staff members and more than 2,000 volunteers. The organization helps over 10,600 individuals and families every year from Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Carolinas. For more information on VOACC, please visit www.voachesapeake.org.

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