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A prepared person is a confident person! We know that the never-ending pricey list of school supplies is enough to put anyone in a bad mood. But whether you are a teacher, parent, or college student looking for ways to cross some school supplies off your list while saving a penny, there are numerous ways to access these supplies by mail and in person at zero cost.
Here’s the list of places to find free school supplies ranging from pens to notepads and backpacks.
The best 22 Places to get free school supplies (by mail and in-person) are below.
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- Places To Get Free School Supplies By Mail Or In-Person
- 1. Operation Backpack
- 2. The Salvation Army
- 3. Kids in Need Foundation
- 4. United Ways
- 5. Back-to-School Brigade
- 6. Boys & Girls Club of America
- 7. The School District
- 8. Ask Local Churches For Free School Supplies
- 9. Charitable Organizations
- 10. Backpack Drives
- 11. Adopt-A-Classroom
- 12. DonorsChoose
- 13. Treasures4Teachers
- 14. Schoolhouse Supplies
- 15. Feed the Children
- 16. Wishing Well (Really Good Stuff)
- 17. Pencils of Promise
- 18. Craigslist
- 19. Browse Facebook Marketplace
- 20. Amazon Kindle Store
- 21. Contact Manufacturers To Request Free Supplies
- 22. Homeschooling Blogs
- Related Questions
- Get free school supplies offline through organizations and networks that supply supplies to underprivileged kids in the community. Possible offline drives include Operation Backpack, the Salvation Army, Kids in Need Foundation, United Way, Back-to-School Brigade, and contacting the school district or local church.
- If you are a school teacher, consider applying for giveaways to help with classroom necessities like pencils, paper, and other supplies. Apply for free school supplies at charities or corporate philanthropists like Adopt-A-Classroom, DonorsChoose, Treasures 4 Teachers, Pencils of Promise, Wishing Well, and Feed the Children to apply for free supplies, including pencils.
- You can also jump over to Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace, or home-schooling blogs to search for possible free school supplies.
- Take the risk of contacting manufacturers or brands to request free supplies.
Places To Get Free School Supplies By Mail Or In-Person
Back-to-school shopping can place a significant strain on families and teachers alike. Fortunately, programs, sites, and friendly communities exist that are happy to help out where they can with free school supplies.
So, here’s the complete list of where you can get your hands on free school supplies, whether by mail or in person.
1. Operation Backpack
Operation Backpack is an annual back-to-school drive of community partners that come together from across the state to ensure underprivileged children have a backpack containing grade-specific school supplies and academic enrichment.
Students from grades K-12 can qualify to receive free school supplies if their legal guardian provides official proof of residency within the school’s corporation.
2. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is an organization that helps communities in many ways, including helping children in need by offering free school supplies like backpacks, pens, pencils, notebooks, rulers, crayons, and other supplies.
You might be able to get assistance with free school supplies from your local Salvation Army. Visit the Salvation Army website, find your local center via ZIP code, and inquire about the distribution of school supplies.
3. Kids in Need Foundation
Kids in Need Foundation is a nationwide network that provides teachers in underserved schools with critically-needed learning resources and a semester’s worth of school supplies for their students. The school supplies include pens, pencils, pencil pouches, sharpeners, rulers, erasers, folders, notebooks, loose-leaf paper, colored pencils, markers, crayons, and highlighters.
Kids in Need Foundation also supplies a backpack full of essential school supplies to a student in need.
If you don’t have a resource center in your community, teachers or principals can apply for the “Supply A Teacher Boxes” on kinf.org.
4. United Ways
United Ways is an organization that annually hosts school supply drives where they supply free school supplies and tools to help unfortunate kids succeed.
If you cannot attend the distribution event, contact the school district as United Ways also supplies schools with limited quantities of backpacks filled with school supplies.
United Ways also has a confidential service that helps individuals in the country to find the needed local resources. So, you can access the confidential service at 211.org to see if you can get free school supplies.
5. Back-to-School Brigade
The Back-to-School Brigade is a nationwide campaign that gives a helping hand to US service members and their family members by collecting and redistributing school supplies to military children.
If you are in the military, you can get free school supplies for your children by reaching out to Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School event.
The Boys & Girls Club of America is a decentralized club that works with national retailers to raise money or collect and distribute essential school supplies to children in need, ensuring they all have equal access to resources.
You can contact your local club on their website to see if they have a school supply collection that can benefit your students. However, remember that not all the clubs have the exact supplies available.
7. The School District
Your child’s school or school district is ideal for looking for assistance with free school supplies. In addition, many public schools provide school supplies for their underprivileged students to ensure they have the same opportunity to focus on learning.
As a parent, reach out to the teachers, school administrator, or school district to find out if they have available school supplies.
8. Ask Local Churches For Free School Supplies
Local churches or similar religious organizations are often willing to help out their community with free goods like food.
If you’re part of a low-income family, consider chatting to your local church or religious organization to request help with accessing school supplies.
9. Charitable Organizations
If you are a momma or father facing economic hardship with the need for free school supplies, you can try contacting charitable organizations to help you out. There are various charities eager to help your little one head back to school with a backpack full of school supplies, and if they can’t, they’ll most like point you towards the sources that supply complimentary school supplies.
Keep in mind that most charities can only provide help to individuals that meet specific financial requirements. So, if you fall within the necessary restrictions, charitable organizations are an excellent way to get free school supplies.
10. Backpack Drives
Many TV or radio stations run free backpack drives during the summertime. The backpacks are often filled with school supplies, like pencils, crayons, notebooks, bottles of hand sanitizer, and more.
Consider visiting each local TV and radio station’s websites or calling them directly to find upcoming backpack drives nearby. Ensure to ask whether you’ll need to register as a recipient to receive a free backpack and school supplies.
Adopt-A-Classroom is a national non-profit organization that dedicates itself to giving schools and teachers the school supplies necessary to succeed. The organization matches each donor with one or more classrooms of an underserved school.
The donations are all online credit that allows the teachers to transparently purchase their school supplies from an online network of program affiliates.
The national cause event “A Day Made Better,” founded by OfficeMax, also benefits Adopt-A-Classroom by calling attention to teachers’ dilemma paying for their classroom supplies. In addition, it gives teachers the golden opportunity to score school supplies worth thousands of dollars.
DonorsChoose is a charity-based organization eager to help combat racial and socioeconomic inequity by funding teachers in low-income communities for classroom projects and supplies.
If you’re a teacher, consider signing up for the website to request free school supplies. If valid, DonorsChoose will fund the request and deliver the supplies right to you.
Treasure4Teachers is a non-profit organization offering teachers access to a warehouse filled with a vast selection of new and used supplies at low-cost or free rates.
If you are a teacher, consider shopping in their free section or fill a bag with free school supplies to supply your classroom.
14. Schoolhouse Supplies
The Schoolhouse Supplies strives to level the playing field by supplying basic school supplies for underprivileged children in Portland.
The Schoolhouse Supplies provides school supplies, books, art supplies, and office supplies to help the highest need classrooms in Portland.
If you are a teacher, consider paying a visit to the Free Store to bring supplies to their classroom and students. The school administrators and secretaries can also stock the school supply closet.
15. Feed the Children
Feed the Children is a program that distributes backpacks filled with school supplies, books, and personal care items to homeless and at-risk children.
If you are an active, certified, full-time teacher employed by a preapproved school district, you can shop or pick up the free school or classroom supplies monthly from their Children’s Teacher store on designated shopping days.
You’ll need to show identification upon check-in to verify that you are an eligible teacher and a Feed the Children reusable tote bag on each visit.
Feed the Children has five operating Teacher Stores around the country. These stores provide free school supplies, books, and other classroom necessities to eligible teachers working in Title I schools.
The stores are located in:
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Chandler, Arizona
- Elkhart, Indiana
- Lavergne, Tennessee
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
16. Wishing Well (Really Good Stuff)
Wishing Well is a new program with the vision to give teachers and school administrators access to school supplies at zero cost. The Wishing Well program is also available for childcare centers, after-school programs, PTAs, and Head Start Programs.
You’ll need to sign up on the “Make a Wish” List to create a campaign listing the school supplies you need. The donors choose to purchase as many of the items as they wish. Then, the items are shipped directly to the teachers or administrators quickly.
17. Pencils of Promise
Pencils of Promise is a community that provides basic school supplies and dynamic materials globally. Still, they offer a teacher support program that equips the teachers with one-on-one coaching sessions and new methodologies to reinforce and improve their skills.
If you’re a teacher, consider contacting Pencils of Promise to equip your classroom with basic school supplies, e-readers, and age-appropriate e-books.
Craigslist is a treasure trove that offers many free items, including free school supplies like backpacks, pencils, pens, highlighters, and many more.
You will need to browse the “Free” section to find these freebies, as free school supplies aren’t Craigslist’s focus point.
First, find your city’s section and then go to the “free stuff” department and search for the item you want; enter terms like “pens,” “backpacks,” “color pencils,” etc. Alternatively, search the complete list of freebies near you.
19. Browse Facebook Marketplace
While the Facebook Marketplace is primarily for buying and selling items locally, you’ll be surprised at how many people freely give away items like they say, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
Look for groups orient to frugal living, battering, or parenting. While it might take some more time to hit the jackpot, give the marketplace a scan, you might find someone giving away school supplies.
20. Amazon Kindle Store
While Amazon’s Kindle Store does not offer free school supplies like pens and paper pads, they offer many free textbooks.
You can access these free textbooks without owning a Kindle; they are available on Kindle’s cloud reader on standard computers.
21. Contact Manufacturers To Request Free Supplies
Many manufacturers or brands are willing to hand out complimentary or promo products, especially if you are a loyal customer giving positive reviews. So, contact a few pen and pencil brands and ask if they have free samples available.
Tip: Follow these brands on social media to ensure you are the first to know about random giveaways, sales, or coupons.
Here are a few popular brands worth contacting:
22. Homeschooling Blogs
Many renowned bloggers who chit-chat about homeschooling, raising school kids, and related topics are most in the know about new school supplies promos.
Those bloggers who attract thousands of overall followers have an edge since pencil manufacturers, and other school supply companies directly contact these bloggers to promote their products.
Consider following one or more of these renowned bloggers to potentially get your hands on free pencils and other school supplies:
- This Reading Mama
- I Can Teach My Child
- Confessions of a Homeschooler
- Simple Homeschool
- Homegrown Learners
Where Can Teachers Get Free Pencils In Bulk?
As a teacher, DonorsChoose, Treasures4Teachers, and Schoolhouse Supplies are the best places to get free pencils.
Can College Students Get Free School Supplies?
There are numerous ways college students can get free supplies. First, consider signing up to the local organizations and online communities that occasionally offer free supplies.
Do You Have To Register For Free School Supplies From Backpack Drives?
Many TV or radio stations run free backpack drives, mainly in summertime. Some of these backpacks are filled with free school supplies. However, you generally need to register to receive a free backpack.