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How to Get FREE School Supplies in PA

How to Get FREE School Supplies in PA

If you need free school supplies in Pennsylvania, you’re in luck! We’ve found many organizations and agencies that can help you get free backpacks, free school clothes and all the free school supplies your student will need to have a successful school year.

Free School Supplies in Pennsylvania

No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, you may be able to find free school supplies from these resources.

PA 211

The United Way of Pennsylvania operates a resource directory for low income residents of the state. This directory can help you locate organizations in your area that may provide free school supplies as well as other essentials.

You can find these resources on the 211 website or by calling 211.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a frequent source of free school supplies for low income families. If you are looking for free school supplies in Pennsylvania, I’d recommend contacting your local Salvation Army division for assistance or referrals. There are two branches of the Salvation Army in this area: Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware, and the Western Pennsylvania Division.


Historically, many Verizon locations have been very generous in donating a free backpack with school supplies for students in their local area. For example, the Verizon store in Punxsutawney has participated in this promotion for several years but it is unclear if it will do so again.

Volunteers of America Pennsylvania

Volunteers of America is a nationwide organization. Their Pennsylvania chapter offers supportive services to low income people throughout the state. Among their many services is “Operation Backpack”, a service that provides new backpacks and school supplies to those in need.

School Districts

Many school districts conduct fundraisers and school supply drives to help low income students get the supplies that they need.

For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools hosts an annual back to school drive. The drive offers kids a full stock of supplies so they can be confident and ready for class. Your child may even get a fresh new haircut. There is also an event for the parents to go and learn more about a few resources available to them.

If you simply cannot afford school supplies for your student this year, please reach out to your local school as soon as possible to see if they are able to assist you or refer you to another community organization that can help.

How to Get Free School Supplies Near You

As usual, many of the most helpful agencies are also the most local. Search for your county in the list below to see what we’ve found in your area.

Allegheny County

Community Empowerment Association is a community-based organization for anyone and everyone. This group holds an annual “Back to School” drive. This drive accepts donations then distributes the goods to students in need. The information we found is for an event held previously, but the general information might still be viable.

New Vision Community Church in Verona is described as a clothes exchange ministry. The church is open to accepting clothes throughout the year, and then distributes them. Their distribution days run every second Saturday of every month. Families come with their children for a chance to gain some new clothes for free through their “Kids Closet”.

South Hills Interfaith in Bethel Park operates just on the edge of Allegheny County and in Pittsburgh. Their services range from food and clothing to communities and families. They hosted a program which distributed 700 backpacks to students who needed them. It is not clear if this is an annual event, but given their extensive youth program I would assume they could refer you to a similar program in the area if theirs is no longer available.

Cumberland County

Bountiful Blessings in Mechanicsburg is a church with multiple locations, all working to serve families in Pennsylvania. The church has several programs listed such as a Back to School session, bountiful harvest, summer reading, and as well as a Christmas event. The “Back to School” program offers children enough of the right supplies to kickstart their year in the right way. Information is limited to the specifics of the school event, but their website should shed some more light if you want more information.

Delaware County

Better Living Center in Chester, PA often offers free backpacks filled with school supplies during the back-to-school season. They also offer an emergency food pantry, free computer lab with internet access, after-school programs, job training, and other resources that can help you.

Erie County

The Bar Association of Erie County offers assistance to homeless students in Erie County through their Attorneys and Kids Together program. They can assist with school uniforms, backpacks, winter coats, and books for all K-12 students. High school juniors and seniors who cannot afford a yearbook, prom tickets or attire, graduation gowns, class rings or class trips can also receive assistance with those additional expenses. They can also assist with SAT fees. If you are interested, it appears that they may also offer a mentoring program for students who are entering 5th grade or above.

Boro Women and Family Services in Edinboro can also provide assistance with basic school supplies, including pencils, backpacks and notebooks.

Fulton County

The Fulton County Food Basket provides food as well as seasonal assistance programs like school supplies, summer lunches, and more.

Indiana County

The Indiana County Community Action Program provides an annual Back to School bash with free school supplies, clothing and even haircuts for students who need them. You can follow their Back to School Bash Facebook page for updates.

Lancaster County

Lancaster First Assembly of God has done school supply drives for young students who are entering grade 6 or below. These drives are typically held in August and are operated on a first-come, first-serve basis. You will need to contact the Church for details.

York County

Community Reach in Red Lion offers many helpful services to low income families, including a food pantry, clothing closet, and other services that fill basic needs. They also offer school supplies and holiday gifts. If you need help, I highly recommend you contact them for assistance or a referral.

Get more free stuff in PA!

Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.