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 Listia. Craigslist also has a "free" category under their "For Sale" section.
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!