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There’s nothing like finding free school supplies near me to offset some of the costs—which can be upwards of $100 per child—to send kiddos back to school. The school year always seems to creep up on all of us, and making sure your kids have all the right tools can get stressful and expensive. If you’re looking for how to get free school supplies online or by mail, we got you covered.
Lucky for you, we found places and ways you can get free back-to-school supplies for your kids this year—from free backpacks to DIY crafts. But first, make sure to check out our back-to-school deals page to find some great ways to save on school supplies this year.
1. Get free school supplies when you use the Ibotta app.
In the past, Ibotta offered 100% cash back on a number of back-to-school items, including Five Star 3-Subject Notebooks, Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils, and Paper Mate pink erasers.
All you had to do is download the app and link your Walmart, Target, or H-E-B account. Then add the rebates before you started shopping. Here were some of the free-after-rebate products:
- Five Star 3-Subject Notebooks
- Paper Mate Pink Erasers, 3-count
- Ticonderoga #2 Pencils, 12-count
- Nature’s Own Butter Bread, Whole Wheat, or Honey Wheat, 20 ounce
If you have no idea how Ibotta works, we have a whole article telling you how easy it is to get cash back on your everyday purchases. And keep tabs on the KCL app for more Ibotta rebates.
2. Join online groups like Facebook Marketplace for free school supplies.
You can find just about anything on online groups like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, including free back-to-school supplies. In the search bar, enter “free school supplies,” choose what looks good, and connect with the seller.
You could also find community events where organizations or companies are hosting back-to-school giveaways. Some people have moving sales where they just want to get rid of supplies for free. Ta-da!
3. Check local charities for free back-to-school supplies.
Check these charities and see if they are hosting any back-to-school giveaways (with everything from free clothes to shoes, school book bags or backpacks, pens, dresses, slacks, and other stuff). In past years, these organizations have hosted events:
- Salvation Army
- United Way
- Volunteers of America
- The Assistance League
- YMCA & YWCA
- Boys & Girls Club (There is a one-time yearly fee that varies depending on location. I’ve found it goes as low as $5 and as high as $50.)
The Salvation Army also holds another seasonal assistance program, Coats for Kids. Each winter participating locations provide free jackets, boots, and other winter clothing to both kids and senior citizens in need.
4. Design a free personalized pencil pouch in August from JCPenney.
Once a month, JCPenney Kids Zone has free arts and crafts activities for kids (plus a 10% off coupon for parents to use that day). After they’re done, participants get to take home an ID badge, a lanyard Collector’s pin, and a Master’s Medallion after completing six crafts.
While their fall 2023 dates haven’t been posted yet, keep a watch for back-to-school events around August. In the past, one JCPenney Kids Zone event offered a customizable pencil pouch, markers, and an eraser.
5. Watch for back-to-school backpacks full of free school supplies at Verizon Wireless Zone.
Last year, K – 12 kids received a free backpack when they visited select Verizon retailer Wireless Zone locations on July 21, 2022. Select locations handed out free backpacks filled with school supplies (no purchase was necessary). It was a “first come, first served,” event. We hope to see this giveaway again in 2023.
6. Request free school supplies (like pens) by giving companies your name and address.
If you’re looking for free school supplies like pens, online bulk office supply stores like 4Imprint.com, InTur Travel, and AnyPromo.com give them away for free. All you have to do is select a style of pen, fill out your information, and they will ship it to your house for free.
TIP: 4Imprint.com also gives away free journals and notebooks as samples. Just go to the notebook you want to click on the “Request a Free Sample” button. Be aware that there is a maximum of three samples per person on the site.
7. On FreeCycle, one person’s junk is another’s free back-to-school supplies.
FreeCycle is basically a place for people to give things away, and that includes school supplies. I’ve found people giving away crayons, pens, binders, and highlighters.
Making an account is free, and it never hurts to see what people will be willing to give up. Plus, it makes for the perfect opportunity to donate some of your unopened — or gently used — school supplies to others in need.
8. Visit an Operation Homefront location near you to pick up free school supplies.
Operation Homefront is a non-profit organization that helps military families through financial assistance and ongoing support programs. Through their Back-to-School Brigade, every year (for the past 13 years), they distribute free school supplies to military children nationwide.
Eligible members’ dependents get free backpacks with items like pens, notebooks, pencils, and crayons. You have to register a kindergarten through 12th-grade student enrolled in a Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) school for the 2023/2024 school year.
Stay tuned to their events page for specific dates and locations.
9. NeedHelpPayingBills.com helps families find assistance programs and back-to-school giveaways in all 50 states.
NeedHelpPayingbills has been helping people find information about assistance programs for over 24 years. You can find county/city information for all 50 states online at NeedHelpPayingBills.com.
10. Local churches donate goods to area schools.
If you cannot find any back-to-school giveaways near you, try reaching out to your local church as many donated school supplies to area schools.