July-August 2024
Empowering Students' Success

A good, quality education is crucial to our students' success in school and later in life. However, purchasing school supplies each year can be a financial burden for local families and teachers, especially as they struggle with inflation and increased living costs.

When a child starts school with a backpack full of supplies, they can focus less on what they need and more on what really matters—learning. With your support, we can ensure students have the necessary tools in the classroom and the confidence to thrive in the future.

The Stuff the Bus program provides Itasca area students with backpacks filled with grade-appropriate supplies. Backpacks are distributed to families through schools and other non-profit partners serving school-age children before the school year begins.


Stuff the Bus 

Join us at Stuff the Bus events hosted at Target in Grand Rapids, where volunteers will accept donations.

August 8th, 2023 | 3 to 7 p.m.
Target (2140 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids)

August 10th, 2023 | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Target (2140 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids)

Sign Up to Volunteer

Backpack Packing Party

Supporters are also invited to help count, sort, and stuff backpacks full of supplies for students in schools across our service area.

August 10th, 2023 |  4 to 6 p.m.
Klockow Brewing Company (36 SE 10th St, Grand Rapids)

Sign Up to Volunteer

What’s In A Backpack?

Backpacks are filled with school- and grade-specific supplies. An optional personal care package containing age-appropriate health and hygiene items can be added on to backpack orders. We’ve been fortunate to receive bulk donations of school supplies for this year’s Stuff the Bus drive, meaning that our needs for items like crayons, pencils, and single-subject notebooks have been met. This is a list of the items that we are most in need of right now.

Shop Online

Visit our store wishlists to purchase needed school supplies. Items will ship directly to United Way for sorting and distribution.

Shop In Person

Purchase items from our supply list and donate to one of the public drop off sites listed below. View list >

  • Standard-size, age-appropriate backpacks for elementary, middle, and high school students
  • 3-ring binders (black)
  • 4×6 index cards
  • 3- and 5-subject notebooks
  • Blue pens
  • Colored pencils
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Dry-erase Expo markers (black)
  • Fine-tip colored markers
  • Gift cards
  • Graph paper
  • Headphones

  • Large tissue boxes
  • Pencil boxes & bags
  • Pint, quart, and gallon-sized Ziploc bags
  • Plastic pocket folders (red, orange, blue, green, purple, and yellow preferred)
  • Scotch tape
  • Sharpies (black)
  • TI-84 graphing calculators
  • USB Drives
  • Water bottles
  • Whiteboard erasers
  • Wide-ruled, 3-hole punched looseleaf paper

All donated supplies must be in new, unused, unopened condition.

Need a Backpack?

Itasca-area students can receive a backpack filled with school supplies from United Way of 1000 Lakes' annual School Supply Drive. Teachers, parents, and other caring adults can request a backpack for the students in who live or attend school within United Way of 1000 Lakes' service area, which includes Itasca County and the surrounding communities of Hill City, Bena, and the Leech Lake Reservation.

Backpacks are filled with school- and grade-specific supplies. An optional personal care package containing age-appropriate health and hygiene items can be added on to backpack orders.


Host a Supplies Drive

Churches, organizations, civic groups, or businesses can host a traditional supply drive where you collect physical supplies or a virtual drive where you collect monetary donations. Donations will be used to purchase supplies for the event. You must register both physical and virtual supply drives at volunteer.uwlakes.org. 

Once you have registered your Supply Drive, United Way staff will reach out with further instructions and a Stuff the Bus Kit. Other resources and marketing materials are available in the Media Center to ensure your drive is successful.

Supplies can be brought to the Stuff the Bus or Packing Party events or delivered to United Way of 1000 Lakes by September 1st.


2023 Dropbox Locations include:

Coldwell Banker Northwoods (812 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids)
Grand Rapids Dental Care (220 SE 21st St, Grand Rapids)
Grand Rapids United Methodist Church (1701 SE 5th Ave, Grand Rapids)
Itasca County Family YMCA (400 River Rd, Grand Rapids)
Itasca County DFL (809 NE 4th St, Grand Rapids)
Kiesler Wellness Center (3130 SE 2nd Ave, Grand Rapids)
Klockow Brewing Company (36 SE 10th St, Grand Rapids)
KOOTASCA (Central Square Mall: 201 NW 4th St, Suite 130, Grand Rapids)
Park State Bank (428 NW 4th Ave, Grand Rapids)
Park State Bank (1215 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids)
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church (501 15th St NW, Grand Rapids)
Target (2140 S Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids)
United Way of 1000 Lakes (350 NW 1st Ave, Ste A)
Walmart (100 SE 29th St, Grand Rapids)
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (2901 US-169, Grand Rapids)

Media Center (2023)

Bulletin Insert
Generic Posters  Letter Size  |  Get on Board Poster:  8.5×11 12 x 18
Dropbox Signage 11×17
Graphics: Facebook  |  Instagram
Social Media Toolkit

Our Approach

For 60 years, United Way of 1000 Lakes has played a part in improving lives in the northland. Guided by research and data, United Way invests in high-quality programs to create the opportunity for individuals and families in the Greater Itasca community to thrive.

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