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There’s nothing like finding free school supplies 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.

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.

Woman sitting and pointing her thumb at some school supplies, bread, peanut butter, jelly, and a box of Kleenex on the table next to her.

In 2021, 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 have to do is download the app and link your Walmart, Target, or H-E-B account. Then add the rebates before you start shopping. In 2021, 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.

A person holding packages of pens and sticky notes in one hand while walking outside.

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:

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.

Every second Saturday of the month, JCPenney Kids Zone has free arts and crafts activities for kids (plus a 10% off coupon for parents to use that day). Once you finish your project, you’ll get a collectible pin.

While their 2022 date hasn’t been posted yet, they typically have events around August. In 2021, you could visit your local JCPenney to receive a customizable pencil pouch, markers, and an eraser — perfect for your back-to-school collection.

 

5. Watch for back-to-school backpacks full of free school supplies at Verizon Wireless Zone.

Mark your calendars to bring your K – 12 kids into Verizon retailer Wireless Zone in August for a free backpack. Select locations are giving out free backpacks filled with school supplies (no purchase necessary). It’s “first come, first served,” so show up early before they run out.

In 2021, participating locations were in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

 

 

6. Request free school supplies (like pens) by giving companies your name and address.

A person's hand holding a pen and a shipping envelope with scribble marks on it.

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.

Someone holding a phone with the Freecycle website displayed on it in front of school supplies on a table.

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. Download free SAT prep guides (and other textbooks) on Amazon Kindle.

A person sitting on a couch and holding an Amazon Kindle displaying a page of a book.

Amazon has an incredible program that allows students to download free textbooks through Kindle! If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for free on your phone and computer.

Their selection is pretty limited, but you can find free SAT test-prep books and multiple teachers’ guides.

 

 

9. 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 and be a kindergarten through 12th grade student enrolled in a Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) school for the 2022/2023 school year.

Stay tuned to their events page for specific dates and locations.

How to Get Free School Supplies