How to Host a Back to School Backpack and Supply Drive

You Can Make a Big Difference In Your Community

Looking for a simple way to give back this summer? Organize a backpack drive with your friends, family or co-workers. It's a simple way to help kids in your community.

Did you know that the average cost of a backpack full of school supplies is $87? Wow! That's an expense families living in homeless shelters simply can't afford. 

When you donate a new backpack and school supplies to Operation Backpack®, you help prepare kids in need with the tools to succeed in school.

In this guide, we’ll show you easy steps to host your own back to school backpack and supply drive.
It's as easy as A, B, C, 1, 2, 3!

How to Host a Back to School Backpack and Supply Drive

1. Learn about who you are helping

Take a moment to read (okay, or skim) our How-To Guidebook, which is a thorough explanation of what Operation Backpack® is, who it helps and how to get involved. It even includes sample social media posts you can copy and paste to spread the word.

Operation Backpack® is a back-to-school drive that collects and distributes new backpacks full of school supplies to thousands of homeless and at-risk children throughout the greater Cincinnati/Dayton, Cleveland, Columbus and Indianapolis areas.

All of the backpacks and school supplies benefit local children in our programs and those living in homeless shelters. Teamwork makes the dream work so we also work with partner agencies to ensure as many children as possible benefit from Operation Backpack®.

2. Tell us how awesome you are

Send us a quick email telling us that you are planning on organizing a drive.
Email us at

Take photos of your crew and your back to school backpack and supply drive. If you're collecting backpacks in your workplace lobby, take some Before and After pictures. Snap a photo at the start and then another at the end of the drive to see just how many backpacks were collected. You'll be amazed at how your lobby fills up! 

We want to see all the amazing work you’re doing so feel free to email your photos to us too.

3. Round up the gang and give them the 411

Gather up your crew and tell them what's going on.

  • To get everybody involved, set up collection boxes in well-trafficked areas like a lobby or near an entrance.
  • Hang up posters to let friends know what they should donate and when to bring in the donations.
  • Be sure that the receptionist or those near the collection bin are able to answer questions and have information about your back to school backpack supply drive.

4. Get creative with your backpack drive!

There's no right or wrong way to host a backpack drive. The possibilities are endless! Think about what would appeal to your group of friends or co workers.

  • Host a 50/50 raffle where 50% of profits are donated to Operation Backpack® and the other 50% go to a lucky winner.
  • Hold a bake sale. Everybody can bring in homemade goodies, then sell the treats for $1 each, and either donate the profits or use the money to buy new backpacks.
  • Offer employees the option to dress-down if they make a small pledge
  • Have a weekly trivia question about Operation Backpack® and correct answers are eligible for a prize drawing.
  • Join the Pack Challenge. Can your team collect over 50 new backpacks filled with school supplies? Compete against fellow teams inside your company or with other companies. A little competition never hurt anybody.

5. Spread the word

Shout it from the rooftop that you are organizing a backpack drive. (Okay, don't actually climb on the roof.)

You can let people know about your back to school backpack and supply drive through a number of ways.

  • Hang up a poster on a bulletin board
  • Create a display in your lobby about your backpack drive
  • Mention Operation Backpack® in your newsletter
  • Bring it up in team meetings
  • Send out an email to everyone
  • Share your progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Be sure to use #OperationBackpack and tag @voaohin so we can pat you on the back for all your great work.

6. Drop off your backpacks and school supplies

Our generous sponsors and partners have made it possible to have many convenient drop off locations in Columbus, Cincinnati/Dayton, Cleveland and Indianapolis.
Make sure you drop off all your backpacks and school supplies on time, before the drop off deadline. We want to get the backpacks and supplies to kids before they start school.

Be sure to send us your Reporting Form so we can keep track of the donations and formally thank you. Don't forget your name, phone number, address and email address.

Thank you for all your support! Feel free to reach out to us with questions.