Include Operation Supply in your back to school shopping

The dog days of summer are dwindling and back-to-school shopping has been going on with a vengeance as families everywhere begin preparing for the somewhat coordinated chaos that signals a return to school. There’s no doubt that this shopping and gathering extravaganza can put a dent in the family budget, but for some families the idea of fulfilling the back-to-school supply list can seem like an overwhelming impossibility.

Putting it into perspective, Gayle Whittenburg, United Way of Yellowstone County’s Director of Development, shares that there were over 500 homeless kids just in Billings, Montana’s School District 2 last year. That figure doesn’t even begin to include the “working poor families” struggling to buy supplies for their children on a fixed budget, says Whittenburg. That’s why United Way, along with Family Services, Rimrock Mall, the Angel Fund, and School District 2, are running Operation Supply.

The Goal

Operation Supply, currently in its third year, is merging with Family Services’ 30-year Fill-the-Bus program in an effort to collect enough supplies for in-need families, not only at the beginning of the school year, but throughout the year as well. Operation Supply seeks to take pressure off families and teachers, as teachers often end up paying for supplies out of pocket throughout the school year.

With the supplies collected by the community, Operation Supply aims to provide 2,000 backpacks, filled with school supplies to the Title I schools in School District 2 and to “whoever needs supplies for kids in need,” says Whittenburg.

How you can help

  1. Pick a child (tag) off the bus (center court, Rimrock Mall).
  2. Fill the request of needed school supplies.
  3. Return your donation with tag to Rimrock Mall’s Guest Services station located across from Bath & Body Works.

Supply lists can be found below, at Rimrock Mall on the bus in center court, and on the United Way website under the Day of Caring tab.

School Supplies

  • Pens, Black/Blue/Red
  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons (boxes of 24)
  • Highlighters
  • Dry Erase Markers (in a variety of colors)
  • Markers (washable, wide tip)
  • Glue (Elmer’s)/Glue sticks
  • Watercolor Paints
  • Loose Leaf Paper (college and wide ruled)
  • Spiral Notebooks (college and wide ruled)
  • 1” 3-Ring Zippered Binders

Personal Care Supplies

  • Shampoo
  • BodyWash
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine Hygiene Products


Get on board with Operation Supply and help these kids get their school year started on the right foot. Supplies are officially being collected at Rimrock Mall for Operation Supply until Sept. 6, 2013; you can also bring supplies directly to United Way located at 2173 Overland Avenue. Remember, Operation Supply is more than collecting supplies for the beginning of the school year; the hope is to receive enough supplies to see students through the whole school year. Going back to school is supposed to be a fun and exciting time for kids, yet for over 500 students and their families in our community it’s a cause of great stress; let's help lighten the load.