Operation Christmas Backpacks 2020

This year one of the biggest wishes of Willis Dady Homeless Services is to give the gift of a warm and happy holiday season to the individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our area. We have created a new giving program – and we are counting on your help.



New this year for clients at the Willis Dady Overflow Shelter is Operation Christmas Backpack. In years past Outreach open house days have been held allowing for gifts of warm clothes and supplies. But COVID and related restrictions will not allow that this year. Instead, Willis Dady staff are asking for donations of 100 wrapped backpacks filled with essential needs and also some fun items so everyone who attends the Christmas Dinner at the Overflow Shelter will receive a gift on Christmas Day.


“This is something people can do as a family, with others in your community or as a team project at your place of work,” said Jana DeBrower, Willis Dady Development Director.


“Ultimately, we would love to turn this into an annual event and we encourage other communities to mirror the effort as a holiday giving opportunity,” she added.


Please fill your backpack with the following items then wrap in holiday paper before delivering.

  • New or gently used backpack

  • Rain poncho

  • Socks

  • Hand and Foot Warmers

  • Fleece blanket

  • Deck of playing cards

  • Water bottle

  • Portfolio for important papers

  • Travel-sized toiletries AND

  • Note of encouragement

Backpacks should be delivered no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23, to the Overflow Shelter at the county-owned Fillmore Center, 520 11th St. NW.


For more giving ideas, please visit our website at www.WillisDady.org, search Amazon for our Wish List, follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram & Twitter) or call 319/362-7555 for more detailed information on how you can help as we go through the coming weeks and the new year ahead.


Any gift you give will help make the holidays happier for Willis Dady clients – and get them one step closer to truly realizing there is no place like home for the holidays.


Check out our FAQ here: https://www.willisdady.org/operation-christmas-backpack-faq


Willis Dady Homeless Services was founded in 1987. Our mission is to provide shelter, employment and prevention services to the homeless and near-homeless, with the vision of empowering clients to break the cycle of homelessness and become self-sufficient.