Backpack JourneyMaking The Magic Happen
The idea to launch a backpacks program for people living on the streets came about one night in February, 2018. Co-founders Jeffrey Newman and Jayson Conner were beginning the process of creating Together Helping Others, their full-service nonprofit for the homeless. Realizing that it would take significant time to get THO launched, the J’s weren’t content sitting on the sidelines until then. During one of their midnight pow-wows, one of J’s said, “Hey, other J. Why don’t we start a backpack program to kick of THO?” To which the other J immediately said, “Definitely, other J.”
They reached out to a handful of friends, who each donated money, and within 72 hours, the first Backpacks For The Street was funded. The plan was to start with 50 backpacks. But, once word got out, donations started pouring in, and they J’s moved that figure to 75 packs.
The first Backpacks For The Street program took place on March 27, 2018, in New York City. Our first event took place on March 27, 2018, in New York City. With 19 volunteers, lead by Newman and Conner, the crew handed out 75 backpacks, made up of more than 5,000 individual items, to the homeless over a four-hour period.
While they knew that backpacks to help the homeless was not a revolutionary idea, the J’s knew it was the right program to be the first roll out of THO. Moreover, they knew that they they could put their own twist on it to make it their own to offer true assistance to the homeless.
Read what our Backpacks For The Street volunteers are saying.
It was an experience that changed lives, of not only the homeless, but also of the volunteers who shared in that experience.
“We want them to know we care; we’re not just tossing a backpack at them and walking away,” says Newman.
Adds Conner, who was homeless himself from 2002 – 2004; first in San Francisco, then in New York City: “It can be very lonely living on the street. Many are grateful that someone sees them as a person as they matter. When you take time to smile and offer a kind word, it means more than you might realize.”
BFTS’ second outing was July 9-12, 2018, including two days for packing and assembling, BFTS gave out more than 150 backpacks, over three nights, with the help of about 50 volunteers, who filled 85 volunteer shifts. The J’s estimate 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,” says Newman. “We can do better. We MUST do better. I know we, as a society can.”
Most recently, BFTS gave out 365 backpacks during the second week of November, including 130 FemPacks, totaling more than 3,200 maxi-pads and feminine hygiene products, over four nights and one day, in three boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Beginning in 2019, the program will be expand to quarterly, and possibly bi-monthly.
For more information, please contact the BFTS Office.
We are 100% funded by donors. 100% of every day donated goes to help the homeless. We have no salaried employees and no overhead. As such, we depend on the generosity of people like you.
Whether it’s $5, $50 or $500, every dollar makes and difference and helps us provide services to the unsheltered.
Backpacks For The Street is a program under Together Helping Others Inc, a recognized 501c3 public charity. As such, all donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Together Helping Others is rated bronze on GuideStar, a rating given to only 2% of the public charities it monitors for transparency.