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Operation Backpack

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Back-to-School Fair Registration: 

Program Information
Each year, United Way of Mahaska County partners with community agencies, local area school districts, and our business community to help organize Operation Backpack. Together, as one community, we help ready our students for the upcoming school year, by providing essential supplies needed by our community’s children. Our goal is to make it easier for students to excel in their education, by ensuring they have all the tools they need to succeed.

Applications for Operation Backpack can be submitted online at the registration link above!

Families may apply for one backpack per student, preschool through 12th grade. Free backpacks and supplies will only be given to children who reside in the Mahaska County or attend a Mahaska County school (EBF, North Mahaska, Oskaloosa, and Peoria).

Applications will be available at the United Way, at Oskaloosa Summer Lunch Sites, in the Oskaloosa Shopper, and End of Month Meal locations.  Applications should be returned to United Way of Mahaska County. Applications may be mailed or returned in person to the United Way of Mahaska County office listed below. NOTE: Please do not return to the school district or other agencies! 

United Way of Mahaska County


500 High Ave W

Oskaloosa, IA 52577

Applications should be returned to the address above no later than Aug. 3, 2018 at 5 PM. If mailing, applications must reach us by the 28th. Please allow 7-10 business days to mail.

Late Applications: Applications for assistance that are received after the primary deadline (July 28th) will be processed, and considered based on the availability of supplies. Approved applicants will be contacted in mid-August about pick up. Applications received after August 10th will not be guaranteed a backpack but are encouraged to come to the Back-to-School fair and get supplies.

Back-to-School Fair

United Way of Mahaska County and a few local agencies have partnered together to bring a fair to Mahaska County residents. The fair is the way we are giving out backpacks and letting families in need know about services available to them and their children. The design of the fair is to have kids packing their own bag to create a sense of ownership over their backpacks, free haircuts, free dental and eye exams, activities, food, and so much more. The event is geared towards families in need of assistance for school supplies for families of any size.

United Way would like to thank the below sponsors for their generous support of the Back-to-School Fair:

Boyle & Henderson PC, and a donation in memory of Margaret Kilibarda. 

School Supply Drive

Donations of NEW school supplies can be made at any of the following locations. If your business would like to be a community collection site, contact United Way of Mahaska County. 

  1. Assembly of God Church
  2. Central Reformed Church
  3. Central United Methodist Church
  4. Dollar General (Old Walmart)
  5. Fareway of Oskaloosa
  6. First Christian Church
  7. Hawkeye Real Estate/Mahaska Title
  8. Hy-Vee of Oskaloosa
  9. Mahaska County YMCA
  10. Homestead of Oskaloosa
  11. MidWestOne Bank
  12. Oskaloosa Vision Center
  13. Peek-a-Boo Point
  14. Penn Central Mall Office
  15. Riverside Family Restaurant
  16. Smokey Row
  17. St. Mary's Catholic Church
  18. United Way of Mahaska County

Stuff the Bus

At the end of the Operation Backpack supply drive, donations are brought to the North Hy-Vee parking lot for Stuff the Bus, an event where an entire school bus is filled with donations. Community members are encouraged to stop by to drop off last-minute donations and get a picture with the bus. This year, Stuff the Bus will take place on July 28th from 11 AM to 1 PM.


Other Ways to Support Operation Backpack

We are always looking for groups and individuals to get involved with Operation Backpack On average each stuffed backpack costs about $30. Contributions can be made in the form of supply donations and/or funds to help purchase additional supplies needed. Operation Backpack has distributed over 1,000 backpacks in the last three years to Mahaska County students. If you would like to support Operation Backpack and school children in your community, we also encourage sponsoring a certain number of students by donating a monetary gift to support the program. These donations are tax deductible, and can be delivered in person or by mail to: 

Attn: Operation Backpack

c/o United Way of Mahaska County

500 High Avenue West

Oskaloosa, IA 52577


If you want to know more about how you can help local children get ready for the 2018-2019 school year, contact our office by calling us at 641.673.6043 or via email at