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Operation Backpack

Program Information
Each year, United Way of Mahaska County partners with the Salvation Army, SIEDA, local area school districts, our business community, and other local agencies 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 suceed.

Applications for Operation Backpack will be available here, and at the locations listed below starting June 19th, 2017.


Families may apply for one backpack per student, preschool through 12th grade. Free backpacks and supplies will only be given to children of families at no more than 200% of the federal poverty level. We try to give backpacks to as many children as possible, based on the greatest need determined by family income.

Applications will be available at the United Way, SIEDA, Crisis Intervention Services, or Love INC offices, at Oskaloosa Summer Lunch Sites, in the Oskaloosa Shopper, and End of Month Meal locations.  Applications should be returned to SIEDA. Applications may be mailed or returned in person to the Oskaloosa SIEDA location listed below. NOTE: Please do not return to the school district or other agencies!  

Operation Backpack

c/o SIEDA PO Box 28

114 North Market Street

Oskaloosa, IA 52577

Applications should be returned to the address above no later than July 28th, 2017 at 4 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 recieved after the primary deadline (July 28th) will be processed, and considered based on availability of supplies. Approved applicants will be contacted in mid-August about pick up. Applications received after August 17th will not be considered. 

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

Click here to download this list.

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 $20. 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 deductable, 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 2017-2018 school year, contact our office by calling us at 641.673.6043 or via email at