Underprivileged children can go to school prepared and confident — thanks to Operation Backpack

Summer is finally here, but the start of a new school year is around the corner.

The pint-sized pupils in your life may already be bugging you about buying pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, bookbags and all the other supplies that make their fresh start fun, so turn the nag into a flag of opportunity for good works and introduce them to Operation Backpack.

The annual campaign of Volunteers of America-Greater New York collects brand-new knapsacks filled with grade-specific supplies for the thousands of city children living in homeless and domestic violence shelters, and then delivers them to their doorsteps before the first day of school.

You and your family can help by dropping off new backpacks and supplies at a Duane Reade store near you from July 14 through Aug. 8. You can also donate at the register from July 13 to 24 to help the retailer continue its assistance to vulnerable youth.

Operation Backpack instills community service in children while defraying costs for families in need, claims the program’s founder.

“A new backpack and school supplies can make the difference between a child being excited to go to school and not wanting to go at all,” says Rachel Weinstein. “With the average cost of a filled backpack hovering around $81, we can relieve the financial burden that many parents face.”

A humble backpack can amount to a badge of honor for underprivileged children: It can help restore normalcy to their otherwise chaotic lives, make them look and feel more like their classmates, and help them start the school year prepared and confident in the knowledge that their education is important and that someone believes in them.

It can be also be a fun and fulfilling summer activity for your whole family — the rewards of which are in a class of their own.

Visit www.OperationBackpackNYC.org/fill for a grade-specific supply list. Companies and community groups interested in donating can contact Rachel Weinstein at rweinstein@voa-gny.org.

Help just some of the city’s thousands of children living in homeless and domestic violence shelters start the school year with basic supplies.