Homeless student leaves new backpack for person sleeping on midtown sidewalk

A backpack from a "Back to School" giveaway was left next to a person sleeping on the sidewalk with a handwritten note. Photo Credit: Allison Hayden

The backpack had just been given away at a “Back to School” event for homeless and low-income children sponsored by the Hearts of Gold nonprofit.

A backpack from a
A backpack from a “Back to School” giveaway was left next to a person sleeping on the sidewalk with a handwritten note. Photo Credit: Luna Park in Coney Island

A child who had just been given a new backpack at a “Back to School” event for homeless or low-income students paid it forward the same day. 

The anonymous child left the new backpack on a flipped over newspaper stand next to a person sleeping on the sidewalk with a handwritten note.

“I kept the school supplies because I need those but I thought you could use the backpack so I wanted you to have it. I can use my old one,” the note said. 

“I kept the school supplies because I need those but I thought you could use the backpack so I wanted you to have it. I can use my old one,” the note said.  Photo Credit: Allison Hayden

The re-gifted backpack was spotted in midtown on Aug. 17 by Allison Hayden, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Hearts of Gold, which had just held its annual backpack giveaway for more than 400 children in the city’s shelter system. The block-party style event took place on West 26th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.

Hayden was walking to her car after the giveaway when she saw the backpack. 

“The red backpack on the newspaper dispenser turned sideways for ‘Manhattan Family’ was one of the backpacks we had just given away to the children,” she said. “I had to circle back to confirm what I was seeing. I felt guilty snapping this photo but it was too powerful not to share.”

Hearts of Gold gave more than 400 children new backpacks full of school supplies on Aug. 17.
Hearts of Gold gave more than 400 children new backpacks full of school supplies on Aug. 17. Photo Credit: Florian Koenigsberger

Deborah Koenigsberger, founder and CEO of Hearts of Gold, said she cried when she saw the photos of the backpack and the note. 

“We are living in a time when we default to selfishness, disrespect, hate and mean-spiritedness,” she said in an email to amNewYork. “How heart-stoppingly beautiful that one small heart, the heart of a CHILD, a child with nothing, a homeless child, a child who has only love to give, has chosen to give that love in the only way he/she knew how in that moment.”

The backpack giveaway was Hearts of Golds’ eighth annual giveaway for homeless children in pre-K through 12th grade.

There are more than 21,000 homeless children in the city, as of June 2019, according to the Coalition for the Homeless

Nicole Brown