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OUP employees support Volunteers of America to help children in New York shelters

*Please note, the featured photo was taken in a previous year before the pandemic and social distancing measures
*Please note, the featured photo was taken in a previous year before the pandemic and social distancing measures

During August, employees at the OUP New York (OUP NY) office raised funds for Operation Backback—an initiative run by Volunteers of America, which aims to ensure children in the city’s homeless and domestic violence shelters receive a high-quality backpack filled with educational supplies by the beginning of the new school year.

OUP employees are given two days volunteering leave each year (three in the US). In support of our mission and volunteering activity, OUP NY has been working with Operation Backpack for a few years, donating OUP dictionaries and arranging for employees to collect, pack, and deliver backpacks. Since getting involved, our committed US employees have achieved a three-year streak of record-breaking collections, with the total number of backpacks we have collected over the years reaching more than 600.

With the pandemic preventing in-person volunteering this year, we had to find a new way to stay involved, and opted to virtually raise funds instead of gathering physical supplies. The OUP NY Social Committee spearheaded the drive, managing to successfully raise more than $2,000 through employee donations, and also organized a virtual movie night for employees to celebrate their generosity.

Speaking of the initiative, OUP NY Social Committee’s Scott Morales, said: ‘Operation Backpack is by far the most successful volunteer event we do every year in terms of participation, relevance to our mission, and impact on our community. The very first year we participated, we went to a domestic violence shelter to hand-deliver backpacks. Suffice to say that it was one of the most powerful and meaningful moments in my entire career at OUP, if not my life. Seeing the gratitude and excitement in the eyes of these kids really helped land the importance of outreach and that one truly can make a difference. That we have been able to make such a positive impact on our community through the years is something that I continue to be immensely proud of. Every year the staff of OUP open up their wallets, their calendars, and their hearts to make our city better.’

OUP NY volunteer Alyssa Palazzo added: ‘I’ve been an Operation Backpack cheerleader and team organizer for the last five years. It always brings so much joy to OUP and packing the backpacks brings happy memories for so many people. Donating to the kids in New York City’s shelters is something to feel good about. Even though we can’t pack bags in-person this year, I’m so happy that we can continue to make a difference.’

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