Mission Success: Operation Backpack

Each year, our Ohio and Indiana communities rally together to help all kids reach for the stars through Operation Backpack®. This Volunteers of America signature program helps local kids reach their full potential and thrive as they start the school year. But, it takes support from individuals, families, corporations, and community groups to make sure Operation Backpack® is a success!

It’s partners like Oswald, this year’s Ohio sponsor, who make sure all kids have the confidence and tools they need to succeed and dream big as they start the school year. Oswald has been a dedicated partner for many years, donating dollars and time to support individuals, families, and veterans in our communities.

In addition to sponsorship, staff members showed up in spades this year for Operation Backpack® donation “drop days,” where community members drop off donations they’ve collected on their own or through drives with their company or community group. It’s an inspiring event... witnessing volunteers step up to these events and take them on as their own.

In celebration of our partnership and our shared love for the community, we held an old-school Q&A with Oswald leadership to better understand why it’s important to get involved from their perspective.


From Jessica Jung, President of Oswald Companies:

Q: From the company perspective, why is it important to Oswald to participate in Operation Backpack®?
A: One of Oswald’s pillars is Commitment to Community. Providing children with the proper supplies to succeed in school helps fulfill that mission and it builds a stronger foundation throughout the state.

Q: What is the conversation like each year when you discuss getting involved / sponsorship?
A: The conversation each year is spirited! Stuffing the backpacks is so much fun for our employee-owners because they get to see the smiles on children’s faces when they receive the tools they need to excel in school.


From Jonathan Sadlier, Columbus Market Leader for Oswald Companies and a member of the Board of Directors for Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana:

Q: Why do employees participate? What do they say about getting involved?
A: Employees get involved because they care about the community and helping others, and it’s our culture here at Oswald. Because Oswald promotes helping the community that helps you, employees are always happy to be active and volunteer for great causes in the Central Ohio area.

Q: What kinds of things do you do internally to promote Operation Backpack®?
A: The members of the Oswald CLIMBS employee resource group lead the charge by urging employees to donate supplies or money. With the money raised, we buy backpacks and additional supplies. Though the campaign changes each year, we host a series of internal events and gatherings to get people involved and energized about the challenge.

Q: What comes to mind when you think about the kids and families you are helping?
A: I feel excited for these kids because they are being given an even greater opportunity to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. My heart swells for the families because, as a father, I understand what it feels like to see your children do well.

Q: Do you have any anecdotes about getting involved, or attending events?
A: Every year, I look forward to volunteering for Operation Backpack®. I start thinking about the kids who will receive the supplies as soon as the list is released. I remember being excited as a child when I received new supplies at the beginning of the school year, and I'm happy to pass that joy to another generation. I am thankful Volunteers of America is helping children in our community be ready for school success!

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: As a multi-year sponsor of Volunteers of America, Oswald is proud to be part of all the great work the organization does throughout the state to create healthier communities. 

From the bottom of our hearts, and the heart of every child you’ve helped this year, we are so grateful! The support of Oswald and all our partners reaching right into the heart of our community to give ALL kids the tools they need to reach for the stars is truly what makes all the difference. Thank you! 

"Oswald has been an integral partner to us at Volunteers of America. We love how they make it priority to give back to their communities. Even more, we are honored to work side-by-side with them. Because of their kindness and compassion, together we are helping more people work to achieve well-being every day. Thank you to our friends at Oswald who have helped children and their families reach for the stars. We are honored to have such an amazing partner, who dedicates time, resources, and volunteers to help build healthy communities for all."

John R. von Arx III
President & CEO
Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana