Behind the scenes of our first shipment.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

OB4K volunteers met at Bowman Field (airport) in Louisville, KY on Wednesday to prepare around 1,000 backpacks for shipment to Germany utilizing our FedEx partners. Your backpacks were organized according to age groups and packed tightly into prefabricated shipping boxes. These boxes were completely filled then sealed with an industrial-grade celophane wrap before being transported to FedEx for air delivery. The bags take off on April 21, 2022 and will be in the hands of refugee children shortly after. This is your work, your donations, your support!

Dave Schmitz and daughter. Dave donated his hangar for bag storage and processing. Thanks Dave!!

Jeff Martin, Erick Gerdes, and Bill Vaughan
Former Navy pilot, Erick Gerdes, finding every free square inch of space while loading a pallet. Jeff Daus And Dave Schmitz behind.
Keeping things organized…
Thank to all who came out to help make this happen!
And they’re off…

Stay tuned as we follow these bags on the rest of their journey…

– Team OB4K

Nearing our 1,000th Bag delivered!

There have been many volunteers working countless hours behind the scenes to make Operation BackPack4Kids a professionally organized nonprofit. We wish to thank each and every one of them!


  • We are rapidly approaching handing out backpack number 1,000. That’s correct, number 1,000. The bag has already been delivered to CGN, and has been identified. Standby for a photo, it will happen this week.
  • Cassandra Z. showed up and just absolutely took the ball and ran off with it! Just like Stacie Bie, Monica, Tom Livesey, and many others, Cassandra has a heart of gold and a desire to help as many of these kids as she can.
Cassandra Z @ the Cologne Refugee Center
  • A mother asked today if there was any milk in the center for her child. They hadn’t drank any milk in weeks. The Cologne RedCross facility is very nice, and staffed with wonderful volunteers. But its big, and sometimes bureaucratic. They can only offer what they have. This is where small nonprofits like us fill the void. Because we are there, and we raised money to help these children… we bought the milk! It might not seem like much, but remember these refugees are staying in local motels and hostels, and they have no money to purchase things like milk. They are eating their meals in the refugee center. To them, milk is a luxury right now. Well, as of today, the Ukrainian children have fresh, cold milk in the refrigerator whenever they want a glass.
  • Please continue to spread the word and tell your coworkers about BackPack4Kids. Many pilots have no knowledge about our endeavor.
  • Thank you to everyone who responds with generosity and kindness to request for supplies. Either buying them, or bringing them to Germany, your actions fuel the operation in Cologne.
  • Do you like country music? Buy Brian Wrights music RIGHT HERE and donate money to Operation Backpack4kids!

Until our next update, have a great week and thank you again to everyone who is making this project work. If you transit CGN, and would like to volunteer, just ask! The children at the refugee center love to see the ‘American pilots’ and practice their English.

Operation BackPack4Kids is now officially incorporated in Kentucky

Exciting news!!! OB4K is incorporated in the state of Kentucky for the sole purpose of seeking 501 (c)(3) status with the IRS. We would like to acknowledge and thank Liesl Carter for spearheading and coordinating our legal efforts, without her we would not be this far ahead in the ballgame.


Section 2.1: Overview

Said corporation is organized exclusively for educational and charitable purposes, including for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

The mission of Operation Backpack4Kids is to rapidly provide necessity and comfort items to children in need around the globe who have been displaced by conflict, crisis, or natural disaster.

Founded with the idea that small acts of kindness can make a big impact in an individual’s life, Operation Backpack4Kids aims to be an act of kindness force multiplier during times of crisis, specifically facilitating the procurement, construction, and distribution of relief backpacks and other necessities for kids caught in these moments.

Click here for more information (as it becomes available),

First Shipment nearing completion…

We are getting ready to have our first official shipment later this week! Louisville and neighboring area residents: If you have any backpacks that you would like shipped, please have them to Dave Schmitz’s hangar no later than April 20th! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your support!

There are people working behind the scenes to make this happen. To those people and everyone that has helped even if for an hour, we want you to know that we appreciate you. This effort could not have been this successful if it wasn’t for ALL of you and your time. ❤️❤️❤️

Dave Schmitz and Bowman Airport Official Working on shipping crates.

New Operations Manager in Cologne

Allow us to introduce Cassandra Zelesnikar, who just arrived in Köln. Cassandra will be the Cologne ground operations manager for the next few weeks.

Here she is getting bags ready for shipment to Poland.

She has wasted no time learning the ropes, meeting the people, and getting the lay of the land. She’s here, working our (your) project on her own. And for that we are extremely grateful. Operation BackPack4Kids is not complicated, but it has 100 different moving parts, and the parts change ever so slightly each day. To effectively manage the ground operation here in Köln, you have to be quick on your feet and think fast. Cassandra is doing that. So please take a moment when you see her at the Marriott to tell her thank you (and or buy her a dinner!) and see if she needs any help that day. Without hundreds of volunteers and donors like Cassandra and you… we would have never gotten off the ground.

From Cassandra in CGN:

If anyone could do a dollar store run and bring a big load of those break apart Easter eggs by Saturday night so we could have an Easter egg hunt for the kids on Sunday. I can’t find any [here in Germany]. Please email if you are able to help.

Honorable Mentions:

  • We are at 937 bags delivered, inching ever closer to that magic number 1,000
  • The paperwork is signed and will be filed soon. BackPack4Kids will be officially incorporated in Kentucky
  • COMING SOON: an exciting announcement about a private donor who is matching $10,000 in donation’s!!!
  • 360 FUNDLY donors, over $60,000 raised
  • Volunteer opportunities exist, let Bill Vaughan know if you are interested.

New backpack donation option

April 14th, 2022

OB4K announces a new backpack build option.

We are excited to announce that we are now accepting backpacks filled with only 1 or 2 items from our list. This allows us to build up stock at our Louisville, KY and Cologne, Germany operations centers as well as making it much easier for you to contribute – a win-win! Please see our “How to build a backpack,” page for more info by clicking here.

OB4K responds to needs in real-time…


April 12th, 2022

Nothing can prepare you for sadness and shock. It just happens. As many of you know I’ve been on the ground floor, the front line of this amazing effort. But this morning, I cried again. But the rewards you receive in life often come through how you react to sadness and shock.

This sweet loving grandmother came into the refugee center today with her daughter and granddaughter. The granddaughter has Down syndrome. They fled Chernihiv last week. Her son who was a Ukrainian soldier died in 2015 in Donbas. Now her son in-law is fighting.

The Down syndrome granddaughter had tattered clothes and a dirty heavy jacket on. She needed help, so Operation BackPack4Kids fixed it. Through the use of a translator, we took grandma shopping for her granddaughter and bought her new, clean clothes for spring.


This crisis is real, and the children fleeing the war are in need of help. The refugee center is filled with women and children… many suffering depression and anxiety. It is impossible to help everyone, but we will continue to help everyone that crosses our path. We have raised thousands of dollars, and we will spend it on children who desperately need our help. Our mission has been straight forward and simple. Help these children. Today, we can say…. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

– Bill V.

Check out our upgraded facilities at the Marriott, Cologne

April 11th, 2022

The FedEx families have really come together in Germany to make the project operate more smoothly and efficiently. Adding their talents to BackPack4Kids has been a real blessing.

The new and improved Studio 7 supply room




BackPack4Kids has been wildly successful, but not because of one person. But hundreds upon hundreds of people with big hearts and a willingness to help these refugee children in their time of need. Staying focused on our original goal, utilizing every human resource we have found, and being engaged on the front lines of this humanitarian crisis has proven to be our wining strategy.

A happy IPA pilot on his first visit to the refugee center where he handed out 10 backpacks to children


OB4K in Ukraine

April 11th, 2022

This past Friday morning, 100 backpacks were loaded into vans and transported along with much needed emergency medical supplies and water filtration kits to Lviv, Ukraine. For the second time in less than 10 days, the backpacks you built, bought, and made available… are now in the hands of Ukrainian children seeking refuge from the war in Lviv. It is our sincere hope that everyone who has supported this mission, takes a moment to let that soak in. We have now established a logistical link enabling us to deliver our backpacks inside a war zone.

Loading up the vans in outside Düsseldorf Germany


The members of Ukrainian Friends Germany about to depart for Lviv


The trucks arriving at the Ukraine border



  • 936 backpacks delivered
  • Over 55k raised on our FUNDLY campaign page
  • Over 320 volunteers
  • 6,000+ hours of volunteer time
  • 34 used suitcases given to refugee families
  • 3,000 pieces of Hershey’s candy given out