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Free school supply programs San Diego County.

Low to moderate income parents in San Diego County can get free school supplies, uniforms, clothes, and other items for their kids. Many charities and non-profits hold events that provide elementary to high school age students the back to school items they need, even occasional laptops or Chrimebooks for online learning. Some of the charities and assistance programs in San Diego County are listed below, or for more options try a free clothing closet in San Diego.

While goods may be provided year round, most of the charities open up for applications during the summer. Any free school supplies are first come-served, as the agencies do rely on donations. There are no age, race, language or other restrictions though….everyone from a Spanish speaker or immigrant to a young kid or even college student in San Diego County may get help. Some of what may be offered includes, but is not limited too.

  • Lunchbag, free Backpack, book bags or Messenger Bag.
  • Colored or #2 Pencils, Markers, highlighters, as well as pencil Sharpeners or pens.
  • Books including Dictionary, Thesaurus, or ESL or other books.
  • Tabbed Dividers, TI Calculator, USB Flash Drives or Tablets.
  • Single-Subject Spiral Notebooks or Sticky Notes.
  • College Ruled Loose Leaf 3 Hole Paper, 12 inch Ruler, 3-Ring Binder, or Pocket Folders.
  • Clothes, including shoes, uniforms, sneakers, pants, dresses, and more.
  • Free computers, tablets, Chromebooks and laptops to help students in San Diego learn online or remotely.
  • Free gift cards, vouchers, and other forms of direct financial assistance for shopping in San Diego for school items.

Other school supplies can be giving away as well. It depends on what the general public or charities have donated. The list above is just an example. Of course the assistance programs in San Diego County are age specific, meaning younger kids get different school supplies than older students.

SCAIR - Southern California American Indian Resource Center, Inc
239 E Main Street
El Cajob, CA 92020
(619) 328-0676
They only help Native American families. There are vouchers for school supplies, clothes, groceries, and other assistance that can help students/kids as well as their family.




NAACP, Joe and Vi Jacobs Center for Innovation
Address is 5106 Federal Blvd
San Diego, California 92105
Dial (619) 263-7823
Minorities and inner city students can get back to school supplies, gift cards and more.

San Diego LGBT Community Center
Address is 3909 Centre St
San Diego, CA 92103
Dial (619) 692-2077
Only children/students of LGBT community (or their parents) can use this free back to school giveaway event.

Salvation Army Centers
Each summer and fall the Christian church based group offers a free school supply event. They give away notebooks, backpacks, calculators, and other donated material. There may also be books, free food, shelter, gift cards, and emergency financial help for parents as well. More on Salvation Army in San Diego.

San Diego Church of Christ
(619) 312-5850
Homeless and the poor can get free clothes, shoes, school supplies, notebooks, backpacks, blankets, books and more. Volunteers collect surplus supplies in San Diego County and give them away to the less fortunate. The program is known as Acts of Compassion Through Service Brigade. There are multiple churches in the county for school items and other basic needs. One site is at 9205 Camino Del Verde, Santee CA.

San Diego County Assistance League
108 University Avenue
San Diego, California 92103
Main Phone (619) 298-7050
Operation School Bell is the main back to school supply assistance program. Students need a referral from their school, including a guidance counselor or nurse. There may be notebooks, backpacks, shoes, clothes, pens, pencils, and dozens of other free school items given out.





Gleaning Field Foundation
Location is 1312 Toulon St
Oceanside, California 92056
(760) 945-1003
Programs include clothes, birth or Christmas toys, school supplies, uniforms for students and more.

St Vincent De Paul
Location of clothing bank is 2325 Fletcher Parkway
El Cajon, California, 92020
Main number is (888) 328-4375 or (619) 296-2222
While most goods are sold, students from very low income families may be given free stuff. Books, clothes or uniforms for school, computers, writing material and other goods.

San Diego Public Library - Homework Help
330 Park Blvd, 2nd Floor
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-5800
Only referrals are given out.

Presbyterian Urban Ministry
Charity address is 2459 Market St
San Diego, California 92102
Call (619) 232-2753
Free food, basic needs, and more for low income or immigrant families. Students, from elementary to high school, may be given items for school too or a snack after school.

Jewish Family Service
Location is 8804 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, California 92123
Main number is (858) 637-3210
A number of assistance programs are offered, including a back to school supply service. They also help immigrants or migrants, adults returning to school, food programs and more.  Some students, based on donations, may be offered tablets or Chromebooks for the school year.





Community Christian Service (CCSA)
Location is 4167 Rappahannock Ave
San Diego, California 92117
For information call (858) 274-2271
They provide a wide range of seasonal and year round services. One is the free school supply giveaway program. Students may be given food, backpacks, gift cards and even some basic care such as dental checkups or haircuts. There are various clothing, food, and school programs for students from Kindergarten to high school.

Hugs Bags, A Love Movement
5412 Adobe Falls Road
San Diego, CA 92120
Phone: (619) 799-1078
The charity provides free back to school supplies to struggling, low-income households in San Diego County. All applications are processed in Spanish and English. Get everything from backpacks to lunch boxes, sneakers or clothes for students, calculators and small tablets and more.

The City of San Diego will, in most year, pass out hundreds of backpacks full of free school supplies to kids from K-12. There may be basic items, like notebooks, pens or pencils as well as free hygiene supplies. For dates and more details, dial (858)636-4116.

  • Colina de Sol Recreation Center, 5319 Orange Ave., San Diego, California 92115
  • Martin Luther King Recreation Center, 6401 Skyline Drive, San Diego, CA 92114
  • South Bay Recreation Center, 1885 Coronado Ave., San Diego, CA 92154
  • Encanto Recreation Center, 6508 Wunderlin Ave., San Diego, CA 92114

San Diego County United Way
The regional non-profit provides a free referral line to the low income, Spanish speakers, poor, single moms and anyone in need. One service is providing information on events, including charities or churches that give out free school supplies. High school, middle age, and elementary age students can all get help. There may even be school supplies, free furniture and goods for college students too. Call (858)636-4116., or find more details on United Way school supply services.







Uptown Faith Community Service Center
3725 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 693-5511 or (619) 281-8411

Both of these provide supplies for kids enrolled into the school. Educational materials, use of a computer lab and more help is given.

  • TRIO, North County Educational Opportunity Center, Escondido Palomar Community College at 1951 E Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92027, (760) 744-1150.
  • TRIO, North County Educational Opportunity Center, San Marcos Palomar Community College, 1141 West Mission Road, San Marcos, CA 92027, (760) 744-1150

By Jon McNamara











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