Child Center of NY Launches Annual Backpack Drive to Support Underserved Students

Courtesy Child Center of NY

The Child Center of NY’s annual Backpack Drive aims to assist 12,000 children and young adults facing economic challenges, homelessness, or recent immigration, providing essential school supplies to empower underserved communities.


The Child Center of NY is gearing up for its annual Backpack Drive, aiming to aid 12,000 children and young adults across New York City and Long Island. The initiative, which provides essential school supplies to students facing economic challenges, homelessness, or recent immigration, kicks off with a focus on empowering underserved communities.

The backpacks, packed with crucial school essentials, aim to equip students aged 3 to 21 with the tools they need to excel academically. The campaign, a cornerstone of the organization’s efforts, seeks to alleviate financial burdens for families and ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed in their educational journey.

“We provide a range of services for New Yorkers in all boroughs,” Abby Addis, Director of Marketing and Communications said. “We do everything from behavioral health, prevention and family support, youth development, and we have a residential treatment facility.”

Founded in 1953 as a children’s counseling center in Queens, The Child Center of NY has grown into a vital community resource. The Child Center of NY’s headquarters, located at 118-35 Queens Blvd in Forest Hills, serves as the central hub for coordinating their impactful initiatives and community outreach efforts. With over 60 locations and 100 programs across the city, the organization serves more than 58,000 New Yorkers annually, offering a range of services from early childhood education to youth development and behavioral health support.

“Our methodology is focused on young people from very underserved communities,” Addis said. “We partner with corporate sponsors and distribute backpacks. As you can imagine, we’re distributing 1000s and 1000s of backpacks, and it all comes through Forest Hills.”

The Child Center of NY takes a holistic approach to its mission, addressing the cognitive, social-emotional, and physical well-being of each individual. By engaging with families, schools, and communities, the organization aims to create a supportive environment where children can thrive.

The Backpack Drive, a collaborative effort involving corporate sponsors and volunteers, highlights the power of collective action in addressing educational inequities. From stuffing backpacks with supplies to coordinating distribution, the initiative showcases the dedication of individuals and organizations committed to making a difference.

“It’s very important to help families relieve economic hardship for them to  start confident and set them up for success,” Addis said. “It’s important to highlight that the Children’s Center of NY serves everyone, not just children. We have military services, we have benefits access, we have job nets, things for the whole community. So, it’s children and families.”

Brently Winstead, the Director of Development at The Child Center of NY, highlighted the organization’s longstanding commitment to their annual Backpack Drive, which has been ongoing since 2013 and has seen a remarkable increase in scale over the years.

With an aspirational goal of distributing 12,000 backpacks this year, the initiative targets children from underserved communities, including recent immigrants, those experiencing homelessness, and those living below the poverty line. Winstead emphasized the importance of alleviating the financial burdens on families, allowing parents to prioritize necessities without sacrificing their children’s education.

“We look at the kids who are recent immigrants to New York City in the last six months to a year, we also look at kids who live in shelters, temporary housing, homeless doubled up situations like that, and we also look at kids who live below the poverty line based off New York City standards,” Winstead said.

Organizing such a large-scale initiative requires extensive communication and collaboration with internal and external partners, spanning several months from planning to execution. Winstead outlined the meticulous process of coordinating with vendors, program directors, corporate sponsors, and government officials to ensure the success of the Backpack Drive.

He also emphasized the organization’s broader mission beyond the backpack campaign, aiming to combat generational poverty and stigma surrounding mental health while striving to increase graduation rates across the communities they serve. Winstead highlighted various avenues for community involvement, including donating supplies, volunteering time or expertise, and offering financial support, underscoring the organization’s multifaceted approach to making a meaningful impact on the lives of thousands of individuals each year.

“We just think that the backpack drive is one of many things that we as an organization are doing to end the generational divide that comes with poverty,” Winstead said. We serve around 58,000 individuals each year. We’ve been around for over 70 years. We have six divisions that encompass our work.”

As the campaign gains momentum, The Child Center of NY encourages community members to lend their support through donations and volunteering. Every contribution, whether big or small, plays a crucial role in empowering underserved youth and fostering academic success.

To learn more about how you can support the Backpack Drive and other initiatives by The Child Center of NY, visit their website and consider making a difference in the lives of children and families in need.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact Brentley Winstead, Director of Development, at

“Our backpack drive embodies the philosophy of TCCNY: meaningful change begins by providing everyone with opportunities,” CEO Traci Donnelly said. “Whether it’s through a backpack or our innovative Cash+Community Works program, we strive to make a cycle-breaking difference. We are immensely grateful to our New York community for coming together to support this amazing Child Center program.”

Courtesy Child Center of NY

With an aspirational goal of equipping students aged 3 to 21 with academic tools, the campaign alleviates financial burdens for families, ensuring equal opportunities for success.

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