When Rachel Weinstein, Operation Backpack® Founder, wrote a letter to actor and musician Kevin Bacon asking if he could attend their kick-off event, she never dreamed it would lead to the inspiring outpouring of support for Volunteers of America-Greater New York’s annual drive that it did. Every year, in an effort to break the cycles of homelessness and poverty, Operation Backpack provides new backpacks filled with grade-specific school supplies to children living in New York City’s homeless and domestic violence shelters. Last year, VOA-Greater New York responded to more than 16,000 backpack requests. This year they need to respond to the almost 19,000 requests they’ve already received to ensure that every child living in a NYC homeless shelter is ready for his or her first day of school.Originally planning a fundraising event, the group quickly developed ideas around a video and a CrowdRise campaignwhile in conversations with SixDegrees.org. From the director who wrote the script, to the equipment, technical assistance, studio location, filmmakers and especially Kevin Bacon, the entire community came together to donate its time to VOA-Greater New York.“It’s amazing how people can rally together for a cause they hold close to their heart,” said Rachel, VP/Chief Development & Communications Officer at VOA-Greater New York. “This video was made thanks to the generosity of a broad community. I was shocked when I found out that Kevin Bacon flew to New York City in the middle of his Bacon Brothers tour just to shoot our video and greet our guests. It means a great deal to us.”
The video already has almost 165,000 views, in large part thanks to Upworthy’s post and also social media shares from celebrities such as Kevin Bacon and actress Paige Davis (best known for TLC’s Trading Spaces). The Operation Backpack campaign has already attracted more than 700 new donors through the CrowdRise Campaign. VOA has raised $148,000 so far (though they need $440,000) and received donations from just about every state and from faraway lands including Hong Kong, Great Britain and Costa Rica.
“We just loved the idea of everyone coming together,” said Rachel. “In fact, it started with people joining together for one cause, is funded by people all over the world who care, and even the last part of the video is representative of the community coming together. When Kevin Bacon appears at the end as himself, the crowd in the scene includes the NYC Commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services, some of our donors, and the great people who volunteered their time to help with the video. I believe that Kevin Bacon would be pleased… how everyone is connected.”
VOA-Greater New York still needs to raise almost $300,000, so please visit their site and give a little to help break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
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