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 up.
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 16 volunteers, co-founders and co-directors, Newman and Conner, handed out 75 backpacks to the homeless, between Penn Station and Port Authority.
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. Click here to read what Backpacks For The Street volunteers are saying about their experience.
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 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, 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. “It can be very lonely living on the street. Many are grateful that someone sees them as a person as 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 go 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.