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FREE school supplies in San Diego, CA!

FREE school supplies in San Diego, CA!

Looking for free school supplies and back to school clothes in San Diego, CA? We’re happy to help. I did some searches for this information and this is what I found.

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It is against California state law for a school to penalize a student who cannot afford school supplies. While many schools still ask students to contribute needed supplies, the school cannot require them.

“The district is prohibited by the new law from penalizing students who can’t – or won’t – bring supplies. In some cases, students are telling teachers they don’t have to bring supplies from home. According to the new law, they are technically correct in saying so. However, lack of available supplies can strap a financially struggling school district even further.” –Grace Chen

FREE School Supplies in San Diego, CA!

Annual Health Fair & Back to School Kickoff is a great place to find free school supplies, free backpacks and more every year! The 2017 event took place at The O’Farrel Charter School on Saturday, August 19. No-cost health screenings, free supplies and activities are all available!

Gleaning Field Foundation  distributes school supplies on the third weekend in August to families who register in advance. To register, you’ll need to call (760) 945-1003 during the first three weeks of August. They also provide clothing, food boxes and holiday help to low income families throughout their service area. Homeless clients can receive hygiene products, socks, underwear, food bags, sleeping bags, blankets and backpacks from this agency.

PTA Organizations typically have funding for school supplies, field trips and other school expenses. Due to the new California law about school supplies, schools can’t “single out” low income families and tell them about these resources… but they’re still there!

San Diego Church of Christ provides school supplies and backpacks to a limited number of qualifying families. They also provide hygiene kits, clothes and shoes to “poor and homeless” families in San Diego County. Call (619) 312-5850 for more information.

San Diego LGBT Community Center assists with education-related expenses for LGBT youth between the ages of 13 and 24. They can help with school supplies, clothing, books and more. Call (619) 692-2077 ext 125 for more information.

School on Wheels provides backpacks and school supplies to children who are homeless or living in shelters, motels, cars, or campgrounds. These children are also eligible for free weekly tutoring and other services!

VFW Foundation provides help for eligible military families. If you’re having difficulty affording back-to-school costs, you may qualify for a grant to cover the cost of school supplies and clothing! Grants may also be awarded for help with rent, mortgage, repairs, insurance, car payments, insurance, car repairs, food, hygiene items, diapers, formula, medical bills and more.

FREE School Clothes in San Diego, CA!

Operation School Bell provides two free school outfits (including school uniforms) to low income students. You’ll need to contact your school nurse for a referral.

Presbyterian Urban Ministries provides assistance to homeless and low income families in San Diego County. In addition to assistance with clothes and shoes, you may also be able to get help with transportation costs, hygiene items, diapers, work boots, tools, prescription assistance, emergency food, Christmas help and more.

Uptown Community Service Center provides help for the homeless, those at risk of homelessness and low-income families.  Services include clothing, food, hygiene supplies and more.

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Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. 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, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.


Saturday 6th of October 2018

This afternoon I visited a flea market in Spring Valley, CA. I saw a man selling brand new Jansport backpacks which were full of unopened school supplies. Each backpack had identical contents inside so it seemed to be a charitable donation that unfortunately found it's way into the wrong hands. It bothered me because I know there are many families in need. The backpacks still had the original UPC tags on them with the word "CARE" written in black ink on them. Is there anything I can do about this?

Chloe Skupnick

Monday 8th of October 2018

OH MY WORD, Tony! That's awful :( I'm not sure how much can be done because that's such a shady industry, but I would definitely report that to the police.


Natalie Scibetta

Sunday 29th of July 2018

Are there any ways to obtain these items that don't require humiliating yourself in front of a school staff member? I ended up on this site, clearly, because I'm having a very difficult summer financially and am bracing for the extreme extra cost of next month when school supplies and clothing must be purchased for my two children. A little help with the pricier items like backpacks and shoes would help more than I can articulate in words here, but the thought of going to the office or nurses station at either of my kids' school is a mortifying and panic-inducing thought and one that will not likely result in action on my part to request access to resources. We live in a house (renting) and have two cars and a dog- you wouldn't peg us as poor people by any means, but the reality is that after paying for all of what I just described, there's not much left over for things like birthdays and holidays and back to school. And that is really putting it mildly. Despite my horror at imagining the above scenarios, I do thank you for taking the time to put this article together and for making it available on the internet.

Nicole Thelin

Monday 30th of July 2018

Hey, Natalie! I wish there was a way to do this anonymously but there really isn't. Everything I know about school supplies in this area is already in this article. I read a report last night that said 80% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck and the average income is just around $45,000 per year (which is still considered low income for a family of four). Most of America is having a hard time getting by and is just one illness, injury, layoff or crisis away from needing serious help. There's no shame in needing a little help sometimes. If you need the help but don't want to face the people in the office, you could try emailing someone instead. :\