United Way of Bemidji Area

201 3rd Street 2nd Floor, Bemidji MN 56601
201 3rd Street 2nd Floor, Bemidji Minnesota 56601 US


United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Through your investment, United Way is able to address the critical needs that matter most to you and our community, and create a meaningful difference in people’s lives by: investing in nonprofit health and human service programs and services that address the most critical needs and deliver the greatest impact possible; implementing community impact initiatives and support year round programs that address new and emerging needs; and, forming strategic partnerships and collaborations—sharing responsibility and accountability for delivering meaningful and long-lasting results.

Our focus is on education, income and health – the building blocks for a good quality of life.


While every child has access to nutritious breakfast and lunch during school, the same cannot be said for weekends and school breaks.

The Backpack Buddies program was developed to help ensure that children in the Bemidji school district have access to nutritious, non-perishable and easy-to-prepare food at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations.

The food packs: The program provides backpacks filled with food that is child friendly, nonperishable and easily consumed free of charge. Average weekly menu: 2 entrees, 1 snack, 2 breakfast items, 1 vegetable, 2 fruits, and 2 milks, and 1 high protein. The pre-packaged bags are purchased at around $4.18 each through North Country Food Bank.

The food packs are discretely distributed to children, as best determined by the school, on the last day before weekends and all scheduled school breaks/holiday breaks.

More than 200 Bemidji area students that have been referred by school staff, as experiencing food insecurity or hunger, are enrolled in the Backpack Buddies program.

The program is currently running at JW Smith, Central, Lincoln, and Solway Elementary Schools, with emergency packs provided through the District’s Homeless Liaison at the Bemidji Middle and High Schools.

Each year The United Way of Bemidji Area requests donations of clean, gently used men’s, women’s, children’s and infant’s coats, snow suits and other winter accessories for its “Coats for the Community” program to help keep those in need warm and dry during the winter. Approximately 3,000 articles are collected and distributed each year in October.

The “Holiday Gifts for Kids Program” is a special community event for United Way of Bemidji Area and the event planning committee. It is co-sponsored by RP Broadcasting stations, Paul Bunyan Communications, and caring community volunteers who help organize the event.

Each year more than 1,100 children, ages 0-16, experience a joyful Christmas thanks to the generosity and kindness of others. Parents or legal guardians are required to sign-up to participate in the Holiday Gifts for Kids program, and on the distribution day they get the chance to “shop” for a gift for their child. In addition, each family will receives a board game.

United Way of Bemidji Area partners with Ken K. Thompson Jewelry, KB101 Radio, and The Bemidji Pioneer, to recognize the value of volunteerism.

The Someone Special Volunteer Program provides an opportunity for any individual, organization, business, or group, to recognize up to two volunteers who have made a difference within the community through volunteering.

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