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School Supplies Assistance:

Updated on July 31, 2012
Look for information about the first day of school.
Look for information about the first day of school. | Source
Ask the school if they offer help with school supplies.
Ask the school if they offer help with school supplies. | Source
Contact the School District about help with school supplies.
Contact the School District about help with school supplies. | Source

Where to Get Free School Supplies in the Houston Area

By Joan Whetzel

The start of a new school year means purchasing a boatload of school supplies for each child in your family. But what if you can't afford the cost of those school supplies? There are places in most every community that collect school supplies and hand them out to those who need a little help. In the Houston area that would include the City of Houston in conjunction with Houston Independent School District (HISD), several churches, and the YMCA, to name a few.

Back to School Fest 2012

The "Back to School Fest" is an annual event run by the City of Houston and HISD that provides free school supplies and uniforms to students who need them. The event also offers a number of activities designed to get children excited about starting the new school year, to let families take advantage of the free health screenings, and provide immunizations. Immunizations will be offered on a first come first served basis, while supplies last, so make sure to be there early. All of this is free to students enrolled in HISD.

The event takes place on the second Saturday of every August. This year (2012), the Back to School Fest takes place on August 11,2012 from 8 AM until noon. It is being held at Reliant Center, at One Reliant Park in Houston, Texas. Parents/guardians need to provide proof of enrollment in HISD, something like their child's last report card or student identification.

For more information visit the HISD website at:

To Become a Sponsor:

To Volunteer at the event:

For Directions to the Event

Church and Community Based Back to School Events

There are a multitude of church events aimed at having school supplies available for those who need them. Among the churches who have offered free school supplies in the past few years are the following:

· God's Grace Community Church

9922 West Montgomery Road

Houston, TX

· Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School

1305 Benson Drive

Houston, TX

· Miracle Christian Fellowship Church

16310 Chimney Rock Road

Houston, TX

· Change Happens

555 Almeda Mall

Houston, TX

· Gateway Christian Ministries, Back to School Block Party, August 9, 2012 at 7PM

5200 Selinsky

Houston, TX

Check online for more information:

· The F.I.R.E Ministry of Grace Cathedral Church

9410 Mesa Drive

Houston, TX

· Greater Love Church

4517 Laura Koppe

Houston, TX

· Windsor Village United Methodist Church

3011 West Orem St.

Houston, TX

· Houston Praise and Worship Center

3802 Live Oak

Houston, TX

· Franklin Beauty School (FB) and the National Empowerment Group (NEG)

Franklin Beauty School

4965 Martin Luther King Drive

Houston, TX

· The Island of Hope

1505 Gregg St.

Houston, TX

Other places to check within the community include your local school district, each child's school, your personal place of worship, the United Way, and the Salvation Army. Ask around among friends, family, and local businesses. These programs are confidential, especially at the schools and school districts, to protect students. Check the websites for each of these organizations first before calling or visiting in person.

YMCA Operation Backpack

The Houston area YMCA throws its annual "Operation Backpack" event which provides free school supplies to children within the Houston community. They ask for donations a backpack full of all the necessary school supplies for one child, or if donors can't afford that much, individual supplies will be accepted. Anyone needing assistance with school supplies either contact your local YMCA branch, call the YMCA at 713-758-9166, or email the YMCA at

The YMCA asks that those donating the backpacks follow these steps:

1. Buy a new backpack for an elementary or middle school student at any local retailer.

2. Find the appropriate school supply lists for the school district and grade level. NOTE: Retailers that sell school supplies have a stock of school supply lists for the schools in the area that they serve. Pick up a list (they're free) and use it as a guide.

3. Write an encouraging note for the child who will receive the backpack.

4. Drop off the backpack at your local YMCA, Shoe Carnival shoe store, or nearest participating HEB grocery store between the dates of July 19th and August 12th, 2012.

5. Drop off individual school supplies at any YMCA in the Houston area.

In addition, Houston's ABC affiliate, KTRK Channel 13, will be holding their annual YMCA Operation Backpack collection event, offering viewers to drop off these backpacks or individual supplies at the TV station. The event will be held this year on Friday, August 10, 2012 from 6AM to 6PM. They are asking for volunteers to help man the event. Contact Jamie Clark at 713-758-9134 or at to volunteer for one of the following shifts:

· 6:00 to 10:00 AM

· 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (lunch provided)

· 2:00 to 6:30 PM

The Operation Backpack List of Suggested School Supplies:

· Brand New Backpack

· 1 package of pencils

· 1 package of crayons

· 1 package of colored pencils

· 1 package of markers

· 1 package of black ballpoint pens

· 1 package of blue ballpoint pens

· Wide Rule loose leaf paper

· College Rule loose leaf paper

· construction paper

· white glue or glue stick

· child safety scissors

· school box for storing supplies

· one 12” ruler

· box of tissues

· yellow highlighter

· folders

· single composition spiral notebook

· multi-composition spiral notebook

· three-ring binder

· eraser

· pencil sharpener

· combination lock

· lunchbox

· calculator

· colored pencils

· pocket folders

· 3x5 index cards

· white-out

· report covers

In addition, most people hate to throw away office supplies (like 3-ring binders, promotional materials like pens and pencils and rulers) and may offer them up for free. Also watch for store fliers for sales and rebate information. While these will cost you, you may be able to get some school supplies for a substantial savings or after the rebate, get them virtually for free.


Praise 102.1. Local Back to School Events.

Houston ISD. Back to School Fest.

YMCA. Operation Backpack School Supply List.

YMCA. Operation Back Pack Volunteer Opportunities.

YMCA. Operation Back Pack Assistance.


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    • joanwz profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Whetzel 

      6 years ago

      Yeah, I didn't realize either, how many organizations helped with the need for school supplies. They seem to be increasing. Thanks for your comments vocalcoach.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Excellent and informative! I had no idea these programs were available. Good ressources. Thanks for this. Voted up, useful and interesting.


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