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Free school supplies, uniforms and backpacks in New York City.

There are a number of places in the New York City area that provide free back to school supplies to low income families. There are items for immigrant children, those in public or Catholic School, Spanish and non-English speakers and anyone in need. Get everything from free backpacks to Chromebooks and more for students from K to grade 12. Find some of the free school supply giveaway events as well as uniform assistance programs in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and of course Manhattan below.

The list below is only a sampling, as these will be agencies or charities that focus on giving out free supplies during the back to school season. So, some of these are specific to that time of the year. There are several other places to try as well for shoes, school items, giveaways and more. They include churches, non-profits, and free clothing banks in New York City.

What may be given out in one of these free school item giveaways may be bookbags, tablets, shoes, backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators, computers, laptops and other supplies to working poor families. The free school supply programs may also give out clothes as well, including uniforms, shoes, boots, jackets, headphones, new pants or shirts, dresses, and more. Most of the assistance programs are first come-served. Note these programs are not always held every year, so it is recommended to call in advance.

Salvation Army Family Stores
Various school supply giveaways are given across New York. There are locations in all boroughs, with stores in queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, and of course Brooklyn. Kids an be give free school supplies or clothes based on age, with those in elementary as well as high school given age appropriate items too. Find details on Salvation Army Family Services in NYC.

River Fund New York Inc
Address is 8911 Lefferts Blvd
Jamaica, New York 11418
Phone: (718) 441-1125
For qualified low-income parents and students, they will be given an entire set of free school supplies. There is also food, lunchboxes, and other items. The package may have notebooks, shoes, and other goods.

Ocean Avenue Tenants Association
This is only for members of the community. Address - 1306 Ocean Avenue (Ocean Avenue & Avenue) in Brooklyn, NY. Members of the housing unit can get clothes, books, pens, pencils, and other free school items.

 

 

 

The New York Foundling
590 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011
Phone - 212-633-9300

Provident Loan Society – In most years they give out supplies from each branch in New York City. Notebooks, bags, books, and more are given to students. There are multiple sites as noted below.
346 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010, call (212) 685-0386
Address: 180 E 72nd St, New York, NY 10021, main phone (212) 288-0918
Provident Loan Society of NY has centers in Flushing, Queens at 136-48 39th Ave, Flushing, NY 11354, dial (718) 358-9191
Another office is at 7804 5th Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11209, Main Phone: (718) 238-0506
address is 2573 Decatur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458, (718) 367-2850

Catholic Charities
There are many churches that are part of this church-based group. Assistance programs include free clothes and uniforms, school supplies, financial aid, shelter, and much more. There is also help, including school supplies, for immigrant as well as refugee children among others as well as non-English speakers. More on Catholic Charity New York City assistance programs.

JCC of Marine Park
Address is 3415 Quentin Road
Brooklyn, NY 11234
Phone number is  (718) 407-1832.

St. Therese of Lisieux Church
Location: 4410 Avenue D (Ave D & East 45th Street
Brooklyn, New York
Main number is (718) 629-9330

 

 

 

 

United Way of New York City
They have a number of assistance programs, including for students from low-income families from kindergarten up through college. Most of the assistance is offered with partners. Programs such as EducateNYC can provide free back to school supplies, notebooks, computers, books and educational material for kids from K to 12.

ReadNYC helps encourage kids to read, and gives them the material they need for that. They also help organize back to school "bashes" and parties throughout the city in which students can get backpacks full of school supplies, personal hygiene items, health check ups, haircuts and more. Text 311-692 for referrals from the United Way.

  • NYSoM Back to School Bonanza, 308 Marcus Garvey Blvd., Brooklyn, New York 11221
  • Local politicians – Many organize back to school supply drives. They advertise them, rely on members of their district to volunteer as well as donate goods, and much more.  One place to get contact information on local senators includes https://www.nysenate.gov/senators-committees. Or try the United Way for details.

Family Resource Centers are located throughout NYC. The addresses are below. They help low-income parents as well as single mothers or the unemployed with educational workshops, clothes or supplies for school (even college) and more. There may be laptops for distance (remote) learning, free school supplies such as pens, pencils, calculators, protractors, notebooks, crayons for young kids and more.

  • Queens Alliance, 29-46 Northern Blvd, Queens, New York 11101. Call (718) 651-1960
  • Family Youth and Peer Support Bronx Alliance is at 975 Kelly Street, Bronx, New York 10459. Dial (718) 220-0456
  • Jewish Child Care Association, 858 East 29th St., Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: 347-462-8124

The New York area covers millions of people. Many families are very busy trying to make ends meet so they can't go to a school supply giveaway event. Or it can be costly for a low income family to pay for a subway or transportation. Or other barriers are faced in NYC, such as immigration status, languages, or anything else. In these cases they can try to get school supplies by mail order.

Coalition for the Homeless in NYC
129 Fulton St
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 776-2000

Donations are collected from the public, and items given to homeless kids from Queens to Brooklyn.

National Council of Jewish Women New York
Address is 241 W. 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023
The charity operates a free back to school store. Based on donations, each student gets one free outfit including socks, dresses, pants, and more. It is a client choice store, so children select what they want. There is also a free backpack given out containing supplies. The event takes place/store is open once per year. Call 212-687-5030 for information.

 

 

 

 

Volunteers of America Greater New York – Operation Backpack
135 West 50th Street , 9th Floor
New York, NY 10020
(212) 873-2600
Most of the free or low cost school supplies are given to homeless kids. But there may be some items (pencils, notebooks, etc.) for kids coming from a home that meets poverty guidelines. The assistance program is known as Operation Backpack.

Department of Social Services and Human Resources Administration
This government organization gives referrals. They take the callers information and direct clients to a back to school supply drive, clothing closet, or some other distribution center near them in their borough. Dial 311.

 

By Jon McNamara

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