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How to Get Free School Supplies and Clothes

Updated on February 22, 2012

Family budgets are already stretched, yet with the start of each school year, this becomes more and more apparent. Schools give children a school supply list that each child is expected to supply. Often times, the basics can cost $30-60 per child. This does not include a new backpack, gym shoes, or clothes, and families may be forced to choose between providing these things for the children and paying bills. Luckily many agencies recognized the financial strain this can cause and collaborate to provide free school supplies and clothes to families in need.

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Back to School Fairs

Locate area back to school fairs. These are often local and grassroots events put on by local organizations such as churches, volunteer agencies, or social clubs. They ask for community donations of money and school supplies so as that they can pass them on to children in need. Contact area libraries, volunteer centers, or the state 211 system to ask for such events in your area. You may have to travel to the next town, but the savings will far exceed the price of gas.

211 is a collaboration between states and the United Way in order to match people in need with the correct organizations among other things. Simply dial 2-1-1 from any phone. Note this service is quickly spreading but not yet available in all areas.

Proof of Need

Bring current pay stubs and other financial paperwork to the event. Few organizations will require proof of need in order for children to pick out free school supplies or their new backpack, but often times other agencies who can help will also attend. Look for booths or information on signing children up for free or reduced lunches, affordable after school care, or other services.

Referrals to Local Agencies

Ask for vouchers to local thrift stores. Many area thrift stores offer free clothing and shoes vouchers to local children. Most only require a referral. If there are no referral agencies there, contact the school or the United Way.

Contact Teachers and Guidance Counselors

If you are unable to obtain the required school supplies, do not just hope the teacher doesn't notice. Many schools will send home a note with what is still needed. Instead, contact the teacher or guidance counselor. Parents as Teachers and local organizations give schools a limited amount of items for just this reason.

Remember to only take what you need so as that many children as possible can be helped.

What are your tips on saving money on back to school supplies and clothing?

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    • sandyjunep lm profile image

      sandyjunep lm 6 years ago

      THis lens will be so helpful to families. Setting children up for school is so expensive

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Although it is tempting to help yourself to the office supplies where you work, it isn't a good idea. You might save a few bucks, but if the boss frowns on this, it could result in disciplinary action or loss of job.