New York City, NY

New York City's Non-Profit that Gives Out Backpacks to Homeless People (and Those Backpacks Aren't Empty)

New York Culture

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New York City is an amazing place, filled with opportunities and culture... And also financial hardship, high housing costs, and many other issues. One may say that every city and town has problems of their own, but it doesn't change the fact that homelessness is a huge problem for NYC.

As of November 2022, there are approximately 70,000 homeless individuals in New York - including children. That's equivalent to 1 out of 120 people being homeless. Experts say homelessness reached the highest levels since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Thankfully, some charities help struggling communities: soup kitchens, government programs, non-profits that offer supplies, help with job search, and others. If you ask me, it's embarrassing for such a prominent and wealthy city like NYC to have a homeless population in the first place, and all they need to do is find housing for them - it doesn't even have to be within the city bounds, there are always options. But that's solely my opinion, and there will be folks yelling, "people don't want to work!". Well, Karen, some may not even be able to work after years and decades of being a part of the workforce and paying taxes. But I digress.

Today, I would like to tell you about an amazing non-profit that gives out backpacks to homeless adults and children on the streets of NYC.

Disclaimer: The author is in no way affiliated with or related to this organization. The article is in no way sponsored; I just wish to share my thoughts about BFTS. You don't have to click on the links shared below if you don't want to check out the non-profit's website.

Backpacks For The Street

"Backpacks For The Street" is a non-profit organization that's been operating since 2018. What they do is locate homeless individuals who need supplies and hand them backpacks filled with valuable and much-needed goods - nothing fancy, just the basics.

The backpacks usually include items such as a first aid kit, hygiene products, socks, water, snacks, food, T-shirts, flashlights, sewing kits, etc. Depending on the season, there might be seasonal items, such as warm clothes in winter.

This organization has a team of volunteers who hit the streets looking for people who can benefit from getting a backpack. While they ask for donations on their website, money isn't the only way you can help; you can also sign up to volunteer with them. On the site, they also have a link to a list of supplies they need the most at the current time, and anyone can make a donation. As I was scrolling through their site, they asked for cereal, but that may soon change.

In addition to giving out backpacks, BFTS sometimes gives out meals to homeless folks.

Their Impact: In Numbers

On the main page of their website, they published the following statistics reflecting the impact they've done on the NYC community so far:

- Start of operation: 2018.

- People helped since inception: 76,309.

- Backpacks distributed since March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic: 69,443.

- Meal given out to the homeless: 29,191.

Sponsors and Volunteers

The organization has a "sponsors" tab where you can see past and current sponsors. The most noticeable is probably Microsoft. But there are many local food businesses and restaurants which may be the ones donating meals to distribute around the city. However, the organization doesn't share the details of the sponsor's support, so we can't be sure.

"Backpacks For The Street" has a form you can fill in if you wish to volunteer. Sometimes they post about upcoming events, and anyone interested can sign up. As I attempted to see the date and time of the next outing, the website said no more spots were left. I can conclude that New Yorkers are eager to help those in need, and some of them are aware of this non-profit's existence.

The organization writes:

"Whether it’s $5, $50 or $500, every dollar makes a difference."

I feel it's a good way to look at things since not everyone can donate a large amount of money. But one thing is clear: anyone can help a homeless person instead of buying a cup of coffee. Again: I don't urge anyone to donate; I'm just sharing information.

Reuters interviewed this non-profit a year ago, so you can watch their interview on Youtube if you'd like.

Conclusion

I love organizations like "Backpacks For The Street" because they actively help communities in need of support. Non-profits like this one find ways to secure sponsor funding, purchase supplies for cheap or accept donations, and then give out those items to people who need them the most. Anyone can help them, and even if you don't have extra funds to donate, I suppose most of us can give up a few hours a week or a month to participate in this great cause.

I was fortunate enough to avoid homelessness, but I'm glad to know some organizations are helping people. I'm also naively hoping that NYC will find a way to solve the homelessness crisis.

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