Back-to-school drive to take place in Harlem, organizers plan to fill 14,000 backpacks for public school students

The Salvation Army and New York Cares are partnering for the fourth annual Stand with Students backpack drive to distribute 14,000 backpacks to New York City public school students.
Lucy Nguyen/New York Cares

Students and families will have another chance to save money on school supplies during the fourth annual Stand with Students campaign that takes place today and tomorrow in Harlem.

Around 400 volunteers from New York Cares, the largest volunteer network in New York City, will be at The Salvation Army-Harlem Temple Corps Community Center starting today to fill about 14,000 backpacks with school supplies to prepare New York City’s public school students for the first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 7. 

The backpacks will be packed and then delivered to schools throughout the month across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. All backpacks will be stuffed with scissors, markers, pencils, glue sticks, folders, crayons, erasers, pencil sharpeners, and rulers. 

The Salvation Army will receive 2,000 backpacks while schools will receive about 9,300 backpacks. The rest of the backpacks will be distributed directly to communities served by nonprofits, community centers, and elected officials.

Those groups receiving backpacks include Henry Street Settlement, the city’s Department of Homeless Services, Variety Boys & Girls Club, Commonpoint Queens, Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities, Inc., The River Fund, and Together We Can Community Resource Center, Inc.

The first confirmed backpack distribution is currently scheduled with Henry Street Settlement on Tuesday, Aug. 22 from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Jacob Riis Cornerstone on 80 Avenue D in Manhattan.

The Salvation Army and New York Cares are partnering for the fourth annual Stand with Students backpack drive to distribute 14,000 backpacks to New York City public school students.Lucy Nguyen/New York Cares

The Stand with Students campaign, run by New York Cares, began during the pandemic in response to remote learning needs and general inequities presented to New York City’s students and neighborhoods disproportionately affected by the strains of the pandemic.

Arlene Lozano, chief program officer at New York Cares, told amNewYork Metro in a statement that this year’s campaign aims to broadcast a clear message to public school students.

“Stand with Students sends our students, schools, teachers, and families a simple message: you are not alone,” Lozano stated. “Many programs throughout the year are supported by donations to Stand with Students, including hundreds of projects like math and reading enrichment, college prep, school revitalization, and book distributions.”

The campaign’s fundraising efforts — with a goal of $525,000 this year — will focus on areas disproportionately affected by food insecurity and financial hardship, such as Harlem, Central Queens, East Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.

Sapreet K. Saluja, executive director at New York Cares, said the campaign aims to address student learning loss and help more students succeed.

“In recent years, the opportunity gap of many of New York City’s students has grown due to learning loss in key subjects like reading and mathematics,” Saluja told amNewYork Metro. “We are fighting this trend at the source, ensuring that students most at-risk start the school year strong with fresh school supplies.”