United Way Joins Forces with Target to Stuff the Bus

United Way of 1000 Lakes is partnering with Target in Grand Rapids for their third annual school supply drive this year with the aim of equipping students with the tools they need to succeed. They’ll be collecting items like pencils, headphones, notebooks, and highlighters for learners and educators to use throughout the upcoming school year.

The Stuff the Bus initiative aims to help all area students start the school year on strong footing. Approximately 50% of school-age children are eligible to participate in free and reduced lunch programs. Many of these families struggle with other costs, including purchasing school supplies for their children each year.

“Helping out with school supplies helps relieve some of the cost burden on families,” said United Way executive director Kim Brink Smith “Without worrying about missing necessary tools, children and youth can focus on learning.”

An in-person Stuff the Bus event will kick-off on August 10th and continue through August 17th in the Target parking lot in Grand Rapids (2140 S Pokegama Ave). Target staff and community volunteers will be on hand to accept donations daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easy for shoppers to donate supplies.

Target staff will be on hand daily 11 am to 1 pm to accept school supply donations.

The event will culminate with a packing party from 2 to 6 p.m.at Klockow Brewing Company, where volunteers will spend the afternoon filling backpacks with school supplies. Backpacks are personalized, with volunteers making sure to include the right supplies for a student’s school and grade level.

“We try to make sure that each student has what they need,” says Brink Smith. “That might mean including items like toothbrushes, shampoo, and deodorant in their backpack.”

Donations of school supplies will be accepted through September at area dropbox locations, which include Grand Rapids Orthodontics, Grand Rapids United Methodist Church, Hotel Rapids, the Itasca County DFL office, Kiesler Wellness Center, Klockow Brewing Company, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Woodland Bank’s Hill City location, and Zion Lutheran Church. Supporters who can’t make it to a drop-off location or packing party can get involved by shopping from online wish lists or texting LAKES to 26989 and sponsoring a virtual backpack.

Backpacks, school supplies, and hygiene items can be requested online by teachers, youth support workers, and caring adults for area students from kindergarten to 12th grade. To learn more about United Way’s school supply drive, sign up to volunteer, or request supplies, visit uwlakes.org or call 218-999-7570.

Schedule of Events

Donation Dropoff: August 10th – 16th, 11am – 1pm & August 17th, 9am – 2pm at Target (2140 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids)

Backpack Packing Party: August 17th, 2 – 6 p.m. at Klockow Brewing Company (36 SE 10th St, Grand Rapids)

How You Can Help

  • Collect supplies at your church, organization, civic group, or business. Call 218-999-7570 or email info@uwlakes.org to get set up.
  • Sponsor a virtual backpack or donate to support educational programs in the Itasca area. Text LAKES to 26989 to make a one-time, monthly, or round-up contribution.
  • Pack a backpack full of school supplies for an elementary, middle, or high-school student. Make sure that your backpack is stocked for the school year with a school supply list from an area school district. Backpacks can be dropped off at United Way on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Shop online! Shop Target and Amazon wishlists and have items shipped straight to United Way to get involved from home.
  • Volunteer to operate donation drop-off or pack backpacks. Sign up at volunteer.uwlakes.org.

United Way of 1000 Lakes is proud to be part of the village working together to create a better future for Itasca area youth. Through targeted investments, strategic initiatives, and collaborations with community partners, United Way aims to ensure that learners receive the support they need to succeed at every step of their educational pathway. To learn more about United Way’s education impact work, visit uwlakes.org/our-work/education.