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Back to School? Get FREE School Supplies!

Back to School? Get FREE School Supplies!

Back to School season is already upon us! If you’re low income, shelling out $200-$400 per student for school supplies can be overwhelming or maybe even impossible. Fortunately, there are several organizations that can help you save money on supplies during this hectic back to school season!

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School supplies are expensive! It’s been estimated that these annual purchases cost $200 per elementary student and up to $375 for high school students! Americans as a whole are expected to spend $83.6 BILLION on back to school supplies this year!

It’s no wonder why so many low income families struggle to get their children enough school supplies. As lists get longer and more expensive, it’s a real challenge for families to fill those backpacks. Fortunately, there are many agencies and charities that help low income families get free school supplies and start the year off right!

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Ibotta is offering free school supplies in 2021!

When you shop with the Ibotta app or browser extension, you can get FREE school supplies when you shop from Walmart, Target.com, Instacart and other retailers! The supplies they’re offering include notebooks, erasers, pens, pencils and even snacks! Here’s how to claim yours!

You may be able to get backpacks and FREE school supplies!

The Assistance League provides school supplies and clothing through Operation School Bell. For more information on programs in your area, you’ll need to contact your local Assistance League chapter.

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Operation Homefront provides military families with school supplies through the Back-to-School Brigade. They distributed over 25,000 backpacks last year! The supplies are distributed at official Back-to-School Brigade events. 

The Salvation Army provides back-to-school assistance for low income families. Assistance may include backpacks, school supplies, shoes and/or clothes! In many areas, the application period begins in July!

Homeless students who receive free weekly tutoring from School on Wheels (in California) can also receive backpacks and school supplies! The agency will also assist with helping families locate lost school records and assist with school enrollment.

The United Way has offices across the country. Many of them organize school supply drives for their local communities! For more information on these programs, you will need to contact your local United Way office.

Wireless Zone offers free backpacks full of school supplies. We’ve been following this program for at least three years, so it appears to be annual. Here’s the list of participating locations and this year’s distribution date.

You can find FREE back to school clothes!

Clothing is one of the most expensive parts of the back-to-school preparation. If your child is in need of an affordable school wardrobe (or school uniforms), check out these helpful resources:

Clothing swaps are a great place to find affordalble, gently used clothing. Bring what you don’t need – take home what you do!

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Cragislist, Freecycle and local “Buy Nothing” groups are great places to find free clothing also.

Teachers can get free supplies, too!

The Kids in Need Foundation provides two large boxes of essential items (like pencils, scissors, paper and notebooks) to teachers who serve in communities where at least 70% of the students receive free or reduced price lunches. Supplies are limited! Apply here by August 14!

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You can get MORE free school supplies and clothes in your local community!

There are many nationwide organizations (such as Office Depot) that assemble backpacks for local communities. However, these organizations send those supplies to local community action agencies, who then pass the supplies on to local families.

The best place to find FREE school supplies is to search in your local area. There are many local events and donation programs that gather these supplies for low income families.

Here are the areas we’ve researched so far:

Alabama

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Arkansas

California

Colorado

Illinois

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

Texas

Utah

Washington

Washington DC

If your area isn’t listed here, you can still get help!

Our research team is happy to help you locate resources in your local area. Just leave us a comment below and tell us where to look! We’ll add it to our research list and get that information published as soon as we can.

However, we do have an extensive reader request list and may not be able to get this information to you before the next school season. So, to ensure that everyone is able to get the help they need, I’m going to teach you how to do what we do!

Step One: Check with the United Way.

When we receive a request for information, the United Way 211 directory is the first place we go. The United Way maintains extensive lists of local resources and usually offers these directories online. Sometimes, you may need to call 211 or chat with a resource specialist in order to access this information.

Step Two: Perform some Google searches.

Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases. Use “free school supplies” or “backpacks” or “back to school events” to find school supply distribution programs. Be sure to include your city and state in the search!

For example, you could type something like these into the Google search bar (substituting your city and state, of course):

  • “free school supplies” Sacramento CA
  • Sacramento CA “back to school events”

Step Three: Call your local Community Action Council, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and other major charitable organizations. 

These agencies are often aware and informed of events and distributions that are taking place. By touching base with your prominent local charities, you may discover lesser-known programs that can help.

Get more FREE stuff!

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Have too much month at the end of your money? Me too - and that's how Low Income Relief got started. I have over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Over the years, I've worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. My work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow.com, Livestrong.com, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), The Chronicle (Centralia, WA) and others. At Low Income Relief, I use my professional research and reporting experience to help low income families save money and make ends meet. It's been my full-time job since 2016, and it's truly an honor to serve you.

paruu

Saturday 17th of July 2021

Hi I am a college student and I come from a low-income family. I have two more siblings so I just wanted to ask you that how can we get free school supplies in New Jersey. I am not familiar with any offers in new jersey so if could help me! thank you!

Isaac

Wednesday 1st of December 2021

The organizations in our list should be able to help you with this, but unfortunately Low Income Relief does not provide gifts, food or funds directly. You will need to contact the organizations in this list for assistance or chat with Lira! She should be able to help, https://lowincomerelief.com/chat/

Roberta Magnafici

Thursday 15th of July 2021

How about other areas of Illinois OTHER THAN Cook County/ Chicago there are low-income families in 101 other Counties that need help too. Please find and share a list for us. thank-you.

Hannah Benge

Friday 16th of July 2021

We are always looking for more info and will definitely be on the lookout. Thank you! -Hannah

Broken Stiletto

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

Would you have much information for Mifflintown, Pennsylvania? Unfortunately more than half the links don't help us ?

Hannah Benge

Tuesday 25th of May 2021

I have added this specifically to the research list. We are so sorry you haven't found much help! In the meantime, here is everything we have for Pennsylvania https://lowincomerelief.com/category/pennsylvania/ -Hannah

Micki

Saturday 25th of July 2020

Hi i live in Lake Butler florida. i stumbled across this site and i pray it can help. I just started a work from home customer service job but i have togo through 7 weeks of classes and training before i can start making any money and when that comes i have to play the make up games to try and get caught up on everything. I have 2 starting 1st grade this year and with everything that been goin on i havnt had the resources to get my children what they need, i have no family here except my mom and her health isn't that good, I couldn't even get them something for their birthdays which was last week because i had to make a choice on getting them a present or putting food on the table, of course i know feeding them is more important but to a 6 year old they don't understand. Is there anything in my area that i could check into and get their school supplies and some cloths? Thank you in advance

Hannah Benge

Monday 27th of July 2020

Everything that we have here is listed. However. I will make sure we add this to the research list. Thank you! - Hannah

Christina

Thursday 8th of August 2019

Need for clothes 7 year old

Riley Thomson

Thursday 8th of August 2019

Christina, We don't have any resources that give out new clothes. You could try 211.org for more resources in your area. Or check with some local churches, they sometimes have clothing sheds for families in need. I hope this helps. -Riley