School Supplies

As the school year draws near, parents often look forward to the structure, enrichment, and opportunity that it provides to their children. However, for many parents, it can be a time of difficulty as they have to find some way to purchase school supplies. Back-to-school shopping can be a setback on any family’s budget, but for financially strained families it becomes a choice between school supplies or other basic necessities such as food and utilities. Sometimes there simply is no money that can be used, and parents are forced to send their children to school with no supplies at all.

Where to Find Free School Supplies

Thankfully, there are options available for financially strained families. If you need free school supplies, here are some possible sources of help:

1) Search the NJ 2-1-1 Database

Using the search bar at the top, type in "school supplies" and see if there are any programs we list that serve your area. If you don't get any results when you put in your zip code, try expanding the search area, or searching by county. Also, click here to view the PDF file where programs such as Stuff the Bus, Tools for School, and several others are displayed by county. 

2) Ask your school, school district, and teacher

Some school districts are required to provide school supplies to students who can't afford them. Some schools are given donated supplies for students who need them. Some teachers are connected to retailers or non-profit agencies and can request free supplies for their students. In any case, help may be available to those who ask.

3) Ask your social service agency

If you are a participant with social services, a food pantry, a non-profit after-school program, a religious community, a service club, or any other kind of program that serves the community, they may have connections to school supply donation programs that can help you.

4) Try the Internet

There are a number of internet communities that allow users to request, trade, and give away items for free. This includes sites like Freecycle.org and ListiaCraigslist also has a "free" category under their "For Sale" section. 

Current Centers List

Camden

Center for Family Services School Supplies

Location

560 Benson St
Camden, NJ
Phone: 856-964-1990 x110

Center for Family Services is collecting school supplies for children preschool – teens. Donations are accepted starting July 13, 2018 – August 17, 2018 and should be dropped off at specified locations. To start a collection or to make a donation please contact Emily Flemming, emily.flemming@centerffs.org or call.

Essex

Festival of Life

Location

1035 Broad St
Newark, NJ

Revival Today is hosting the Festival of Life. This event includes backpacks for kids, supplies for kids, financial assistance, prizes, music, activities, and more. This event will take place August 19th-24th starting at 6:00pm at Lincoln Park in Newark. Text “HELPNOW” to 797979 for any questions.

Passaic

United Way of Passaic County Backpacks 4 Kids

Location

301 Main St
Paterson, NJ
Phone: 973-279-8900

United Way of Passaic County’s Backpacks 4 Kids program is looking for donors that can coordinate collections of backpacks and school supplies. Help is needed from now through September. The goal is providing basic school supplies to children and to encourage an increase of academic success and higher graduation rates of school children in Passaic County schools.

Union

United Way of Greater Union County Stuff the Bus

Location

33 W Grand St
Elizabeth , NJ
Phone: 908-353-7171 x104

United Way of Greater Union County runs a Stuff the Bus program for students in PreK-8th grade. The goal is collect enough supplies for at least 600 kids. Donations will be expected starting in July through August 14th. Pick up dates are August 16th -17th. For more information contact the office or email Melanie at melanie.mclaurin@uwguc.org.

Where to Donate School Supplies

Most of the above options would never be possible without the generosity of others. If you are able to purchase and donate additional school supplies, even if it is just an extra notebook or two, we have compiled a list of trustworthy programs accepting donations which will be passed on to families in need. Your donation can make a difference!