Get free back to school supplies from the Salvation Army and charities.

Families that need help with obtaining free school supplies for their children can get assistance from the Salvation Army as well as other non-profit agencies. The charity organizations offer qualified low income families a number of resources. Some of the items are provided in partnership with retailers such as Target or Wal-Mart and other back to school programs are administered directly by the Salvation Army. The charities that administer the programs, and the contact information to use in order to get applications for free uniforms as well as school supplies are noted below.

Retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart sponsor a Back to School shopping event in partnership with the Salvation Army. These stores, as well as many others across the nation, will provide thousands of children the chance to pick out clothing and school supplies they need. The items will be provided for free to these students. Other items will be provided by local charities or churches, as many of these agencies operate their own school supply assistance programs for families that can’t afford the items on their own.

Locations to apply for free school supplies and clothing

There are many programs available as well as charities that run them. Based on donation levels, each child who participates will be provided what they need for the upcoming year. Students from low income families may be given a gift card worth up to $80 that is to be used towards the purchase of the school supplies and items. Or they may be given the items they need directly, such as a backpack, uniform, shoes, and other clothing items.




Many families struggle with paying for the items, clothing, and school supplies that their children need, and many kids unfortunately go without the critical basic back-to-school necessities they need. The retailers and the Salvation Army can help with this. Hundreds of Target stores as well as other retailers participate in various Back to School Spree shopping events in partnership with charity groups. They will usually operate from July to September of every year.

These resources are very much needed. Starting a new school year may be a thrill of many kids, however it can also cause anxiety and stress for families when they are faced with the expense of buying new clothes, shoes, and other supplies. This is where stores such as Target and non-profits including the Salvation Army can help.





Many of the families and their parents who receive help were recently unemployed. Others were just in a bad, short term financial hardship situation. A number of single mothers as well as fathers also apply for these free school supplies for their children.

The Salvation Army charity organization is supported by a network of volunteers, non-profits, and local and national businesses like Target. Free or low cost school supplies are passed out in partnership with other groups as well, such as the United Way. The Salvation Army itself provides hundreds of thousands of kids across the country with new clothes, supplies, and really confidence as many kids are able to obtain the right ingredients and items that are needed for success in the classroom.

The various Back to School Spree events have been operating for many years. Thousands of students from families living in poverty are provided a free gift certificate worth as much as $80 to purchase their needed school supplies. Your local Salvation Army center will select the children who will receive the gift card. In addition, each participant in the Target program or those from other non-profits will also receive one-on-one shopping assistance to ensure all of their needs were met and all supplies were obtained.

In addition to the Target program as well as resources provided by Wal-Mart or other stores, there are a number of other options. Everyone from a local clothing closet to a church may provide school items, such as backpacks, shoes, uniforms and more to children. Some may even provide electronics, including tablets for educational purposes or low cost computers. Each of the children selected for the school supply program will come from families recently assisted by the Salvation Army in some other way. So maybe the family has received assistance with paying utilities, rent, or food in the recent past.

Most mid size to larger towns and counties also have at least one dedicated Salvation Army center in the region. While resources are limited, the sites will do what they can to help lower income families during a difficult period. This can include offering low priced or free school supplies, shoes, clothing, backpacks, and more for children during the back to school period. Or they may provide referrals. More information Salvation Army programs.




The Assistance League has hundreds of local chapters around the country as well. The main program they run is called Operation School Bell. Not only will it provide students with clothing, uniforms, items they need for any dress code policies, but they also offer other services. The supplies may be notebooks, shoes, backpacks, and other school supplies. The charity also arrange for free haircuts, physicals, and more for the student before the school year starts. More on Assistance League programs.

For a comprehensive listing of non-profit organizations to contact, click here to find local agencies in your state and county that may distribute gift certificates, school supplies and other items. Or use the search bar at the top of this page. The distribution options would include clothing closets, thrift stores, churches, and other non-profits.

Many other charities also provide low cost or discounted school supplies. There are places for families to stop in at, such as thrift stores or clothing closets. These sites will sell gently used goods, ranging from uniforms to backpacks, clothing, computers, shoes, and more. Not only may the Salvation Army run these centers, but many other charities do as well.

The inventory will vary. There is normally a minimal cost to buy the back to school supplies, but some of the charities may provide vouchers or gift cards to the lowest income families in the area. In an emergency, and if the parent is out of options, then the gift card passed out will in effect provide the school supplies to them for free or at a price close to it. Find locations of inexpensive school supplies and uniforms.

Not only are the resources indicated above available, but many Salvation Army centers also provide other assistance, often in partnership with churches, charities, and/or government programs. As an example, some centers have been able to hand out, for free, backpacks full of school supplies too many local children. This would be in addition to the items offered by the Target School Spree event.

Case managers from the charity organizations are also provided an opportunity to work with the client along with national connections like Target. This empowers the Salvation Army with the ability to help kids that wouldn't necessarily have the new clothes, coats, shoes, uniforms, or school supplies that they need. Every year a number of returning students, and kids who are in their first year, will be very excited to get new items.





In addition to the regional thrift stores and charities indicated above, hundreds of individual Target stores throughout the country partner on a one off basis with the Salvation Army each and every year in order to provide free school supplies for kids in need. Local Wal-Mart stores also tend to set up school supply drives in communities across the nation. Families can make inquiries into whether these programs are available to them at a local non-profit organization. The goal of these companies, and many others, is to ensure that children of all ages have the items they need for growing and learning at school.

Your local Salvation Army is always looking for donations and contributions as well. If you would like to help, you can always bring monetary donations or surplus school supplies to a Salvation Army center near you. This is very important to do as the back to school programs depend on the generosity of local individuals and businesses.

We all know school supplies as well as the clothing that is needed can be very expensive. The gift certificates as well as items passed out from retailers such as Target or from the Salvation Army thrift stores are greatly appreciated by many. With someone’s school supplies taken care of by a local charity, the families will then be able to focus on paying other bills and addressing other needs.