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Free School Supplies

How to Find School Supplies That Won't Cost You a Penny


A picture of a pile of various school supplies

Find free school supplies your child needs to get her school year off to a good start.

Photo © EvelynGiggles/ Flickr
Free school supplies give your family budget a much-needed break. Do your homework to find places that can give your child everything from pencils to backpacks at no charge.

Helping people is the reason many organizations like the Kids in Need Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, United Way and The Salvation Army exist. These nonprofits have distributed millions of dollars worth of free school supplies to children.

Many times, organizations team up to throw a back-to-school festival where kids can get backpacks stuffed with free school supplies. Call the organizations close to you to see if they are holding a free school supply event. Even if they're not, they still may be able to help fulfill your child's school supply list from their local warehouses.

Local Media
Print and broadcast media are the pulse of your city. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and city magazines know exactly when and where you can get free school supplies. Companies holding free school supply giveaways notify these media outlets well in advance so they can get free news coverage.

Call any media outlet's newsroom and ask for the assignment editor or education reporter. They should have any school supply-related event information at their fingertips.

School District
School supply lists are long and the items on them can be pricey. Your school administrators knows this. Make your local school district aware of your situation.

You may have to fill out a couple of forms to prove you don't have the resources to purchase all of the school supplies on the list. But if you're approved, your child will be able to get everything she needs to go back to school.

Churches in your area usually work together to help kids get free school supplies. Call any church and tell them your needs.

Many churches organize school supply drives during back-to-school time so they can have supplies on hand for children who need them. If the church isn't participating, the church secretary should be able to put you in touch with a church that can help.

Chamber of Commerce
Your local chamber of commerce may be throwing a back-to-school event where free school supplies will be handed out. Check your chamber of commerce's website for an events calendar and follow up with a call to verify the dates and times. If your city isn't holding an official event, they may be able to put you in touch with businesses who've expressed interest in giving away school supplies to local children.

Sale Papers
Keep a close eye on sale papers. In the weeks and days leading up to the first day of school, you'll often find items that are free after a rebate. Sometimes those rebates are instant, so you won't have to pay for your child's school supplies up front and then have to wait on a check to arrive in the mail. Notebooks, paper, pens and even backpacks can be free of charge on the spot.

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