Backpacks For The Street is grassroots movement to bring compassion and dignity to the streets, and helping to make the lives of the homeless a little bit easier. Launched by Jeffrey Newman and Jayson Conner in 2018, BFTS, a 501c3 public charity, under Newman and Conner’s Together Helping Others Inc nonprofit, is an outreach program helping the homeless, by giving them backpacks filled with necessities, incluidng toiletries, food and helpful items ranging from first aid kits, flashlights and clothing to various other essentials. Our backpacks also include information on how to access public assistance, social services, booklets listing local soup kitchens and food pantries, and ways to get help. We also offer kits with gender-specific hygiene products such as maxipads and tampons, as well as packs for canine and feline companions.
But it’s more than just handing off a backpack. Our BFTS volunteers go out on to the streets and personally give out the packs to the homeless, often taking time to sit and talk to them.
“Compassion and kindness go a long way. Many of the people who are living on the streets have no one. We want them to know we care; that we’re not just tossing a backpack at them and walking away,” says Newman.
“Regardless of their circumstances, they are still people, just like you and me, and they deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect,” he adds. “When I pass someone who’s living on the street, I don’t view them as less than, or worthless. I see a person, a human being, who is struggling. The idea that these beautiful people are so easily discarded by society is infuriating. You don’t throw a life simply because they are struggling or suffering, be it by mental illness, or simply a rough patch. You stop and say, ‘how can we help?'”
Our first event took place on March 27, 2018 in New York City. With 16 volunteers, co-founders and co-directors, Newman and Conner, handed out 75 backpacks to the homeless, between Penn Station and Port Authority.
We want them to know we care; we’re not just tossing a backpack at them and walking away,” says Jeffrey Newman, co-founder.
BFTS’ second outing was July 10th, 11th and 12th, 2018. With 52 volunteer opportunities (half of which were for packing and assembling), we gave out more than 150 backpacks, over three nights. We estimates more than 10,000 individual pieces made up the 13 dozen packs.
It can be very lonely living on the street. Many are grateful that someone sees them as a person like they matter, adds
co-founder Jayson Conner.
It was an experience that changed lives, of not only the homeless but also of the volunteers who shared in that experience.a
“It can be very lonely living on the street. Many are grateful that someone sees them as a person like they matter,” adds Conner. “When you take time to smile and offer a kind word, it means more than you might realize.”
Adds Newman, “We can do better. We MUST do better. I know we, as a society can.”
Next up, BFTS will be giving out 300-plus backpacks from November 10th – 15th, 2018, and expand to other boroughs and neighborhoods. Beginning March 2019, the program will be quarterly For more information, please contact the BFTS Office.
We are 100% funded by donors. And every day donated goes to help the homeless. As such, we depend on the generosity of people like you. Whether it’s $5, $50 or $500, every dollar helps us provide service to the unsheltered. Each dollar goes to helping the homeless. We do not have any paid staff or overhead.
DONATE NOW: With PayPal, through our BFTS Facebook Page or message us for other options, such as checks and Venmo. Donations are tax-deductible, and 100% of all donations goes directly to help the homeless.
Also, we’ve created the BFTS affiliate program, to expand the movement to other cities around the U.S. Our goal is to encourage communities to step up in the struggle of the homeless.