Looking for free school supplies?
Whether you’re a parent looking for supplies for your children, a teacher looking to stock up on stuff for the classroom, or a student yourself in high school or college who’s looking to save money on stuff for when class starts out, this is the post for you.
Sure, there are ways to get cheap school supplies, but if you can get them for free, why not?
Below, I’ll cover ways you can get supplies at no cost – awesome, right?
Can you really get school supplies for free?
You sure can!
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There are, fortunately, lots of ways to stock up on supplies without having to spend anything.
For those on a low income, there are charities and organizations around that’ll help to provide much needed supplies for class.
Even if you’re not from a low-income household though and just want to save some money this year, there are still plenty of ways for you to find freebies also.
And, there are tips everyone can use to get supplies either for free or for a really low price. So, I’m going to cover all of this below!
What school supplies can you get for free?
You might be wondering, just exactly what items can you get for free?
Well, lots of them!
Surprisingly, you can get most items you’d have on your back-to-school supplies checklist, including:
- Glue sticks
- Pencil sharpeners
- Ballpoint pens
- Pencil pouches
- Index cards
- Lunch boxes
- Sharpie pens
- Graph paper
- Ink cartridges
- Laptop bags
- Lunch bags
- Post-It Notes
- Gym Bag
So, yeah, you really can get most of the stuff you’re going to need for free. I’m not saying that you’ll get absolutely everything that’s on your list for free. You will, however, get a good portion of it and with my tips, you can get the rest of it for a huge student discount!
How to Get Free School Supplies in the Mail or in Person
Okay, so now you’re wanting to know “where can I get these supplies?”
Well, here is a list of places where you’ll find supplies ranging from free pens to notepads.
1. Ask your school or school district
The school itself should be one of the first places you should seek assistance. Most schools provide supplies to students who’re in need. So, it can be as easy as asking your school. I’d recommend this as your first port of call. After all, schools want to ensure that students have all of the tools they need for the classroom.
2. Kids In Need Foundation
The Kids In Need Foundation supplies teachers and students with school supplies. It provides students with a backpack that’s filled with school supplies.
3. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is such a great organization that helps people in so many ways. One of the ways that it helps those in need is by offering free school supplies. In some places, The Salvation Army offers free school supplies.
For example, in 2020, The Salvation Army Northern Division provided thousands of families with school supplies during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout August, Salvation Army service centers in Minnesota and North Dakota distributed backpacks, notebooks, crayons, rulers, and other supplies.
You may be able to get assistance from your local Salvation Army.
Simply visit the Salvation Army website to find your local Salvation Army center.
- Find your local Salvation Army here.
4. Ask United Way for assistance near you
United Way is another great organization that may be able to assist you in your time of need.
It has a confidential service called 211 that helps people throughout the country to find the local resources that they need. So, if you need help paying for school supplies, then get in touch with the organization and it may be able to help you to get free or at least cheap school supplies.
- Learn more about the 211 program here.
5. Get help from local churches and religious organizations
Okay, so another place to look if you want to get school supplies for free is at churches, temples, or other religious organizations. Lots of churches near me help out the community a lot with stuff like food banks.
And, it’s likely that you have a church, temple, or religious center near you that helps people in your community.
If you’re in need, then you may be able to get help from your local place of worship.
For example, these religious programs and churches, have been known to help out low-income families:
6. Boys & Girls Club of America
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America often works with national retailers to collect and distribute school supplies to children who are in need. So, check with your local chapter to see if they are having a school supply collection that could benefit your family.
You can find your local club by searching the website.
- Find a Boys & Girls Club of America Near you here.
7. Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade
Operation Homefront is a wonderful organization that helps out service members and their families around the United States. It has many events including the Back-to-School Brigade.
The Back-to-School Brigade is an annual nationwide school supply collection and distribution campaign.
Operation Homefront has distributed more than 400,000 backpacks to military children.
The organization has joined forces with Dollar Tree Inc for 12 consecutive years to collect and distribute school supplies. So, if you’re in the military, you may be able to get free school supplies for your child.
You can visit the site to find Operation Homefront events near you. You can even select your state and search by event type, which would be the Back-to-School event if you’re looking to get some free school supplies.
- Browse Operation Homefront Events here.
8. Hold your own school supplies drive
Why not hold a DIY school supplies drive?
It’s such a good way to get some help from your community with school supplies. You can even find free school supply drive toolkits online.
Here are some places that offer free school supply drive toolkits:
9. Check on Craigslist
Okay, so a really easy way to get some school supplies is by having a look on Craigslist.
Craigslist is like a treasure-trove of free stuff. You really can find almost anything for free on the site. That’s why I’ve mentioned browsing CL in some of my other posts on free stuff.
It’s such a good resource. I’ve seen people on there giving away backpacks, pens, highlighters, pencils, and more for free!
You can find free stuff on CL near you by going to the “Free” section, which can be found under the “For Sale” section of your city’s CL.
Then, you’ll be taken to the “Free” section where you’ll see people giving away lots of different items. Handily enough, you can actually search the free section for whatever it is you want. So you could enter terms like “backpack,” “pens” or whatever item it is from your school supplies checklist that you’re looking for.
Now, of course, this should go without saying, but always take safety precautions when meeting with someone from CL. Meet in a public place and take somebody with you if you can.
- Find free school supplies on Craigslist here.
10. Get supplies from Freecycle
Freecycle is a great website where you can find all sorts of free items! It’s a website where people can give stuff away and get stuff for free.
This could include school supplies. Have a search of Freecyle to see if there’s anyone giving away school supplies in your neighborhood. You can even request free school supplies on there too!
- Have a look on Freecycle for school supplies here.
11. Browse Facebook Marketplace
You likely know Facebook Marketplace as a website where people can buy and sell stuff to people nearby. But, it’s also a great site for finding free stuff.
I’ve mentioned that Facebook Marketplace is a great platform for finding free stuff in lots of my other posts and that’s because you can find such a wide range of stuff for free on there.
Have on search on there because you may be able to find people near you who are giving away things like pens, pencils, and backpacks, for free!
There’s a section just for free stuff on Facebook Marketplace, so do have a browse to find school supplies near you.
- Browse Facebook Marketplace here.
12. Check with freebie websites
There are some awesome website out there that gather free stuff from around the internet and put it in one place. This can save you so much time as it means that you aren’t having to search multiple sites for free stuff.
These sites feature lots of different items from laptops to makeup to pencils. You can often find free school supply offers listed on these sites, which is great.
Here are some good websites to check for free supplies for school:
Having a quick browse of these sites can be a good way to get stuff for free!
More Ways to Get Free or Cheap School Supplies
Okay, so the places above are great for getting all sorts of supplies from pens to backpacks for free. However, those are not your only options. In this section, I have some general tips that you can use for getting free, or at least super cheap school supplies. So you have even more ways to stock up on supplies.
These tips are super simple, but they’ll help you to save so much money on school supplies.
13. Consider using rewards sites to earn some extra cash
Looking for some extra cash to buy notepads, pens, and other much-needed supplies? Well, then I would highly recommend that you sign up for some reward websites.
These sites offer you points for doing easy tasks. And, I mean really easy tasks like watching videos and browsing the internet – you know, stuff you’re probably already doing anyway.
Once, you’ve accumulated enough points, you can redeem them for things like:
- Money to your PayPal account (who doesn’t want some quick cash sent to their PayPal account?)
- Money right to your bank account.
- A prepaid MasterCard or Visa card.
- Gift cards for retailers like Amazon and Walmart – you know, places where you can get school supplies for cheap.
There are lots of rewards sites out there. Not all of them are great though, so you’ll need to make sure you only sign up for the legit ones. Fortunately, I have three such sites for you here:
These sites are all free to join and you can easily get started with making money with them.
They’ll pay you for:
- Playing games
- Watching videos
- Shopping online
- Reading emails
- Taking surveys
- Completing offers
- Browsing the internet
You can use the money you make or the gift cards you get to purchase school supplies at no cost!
Getting gift cards is great because you can get what you want from stores like Target, and you don’t have to spend any of your own cash.
14. Get cashback and use it to get school at no cost
Okay, so next time you’re shopping whether it’s online or at the grocery store, why not get cashback for it? I mean, it’s like free money!
If you’re on a budget, then I would highly recommend that you use cashback websites or apps.
These will give you money when you shop online or in-store.
Here are some legit cashback websites and apps:
With sites like Rakuten and TopCashback, you just shop online as you normally would, and you will earn cashback. With Ibotta, you will have to upload a photo of your receipt to get the rebate.
15. Stock up whenever you see a great deal
This is a tip that I really like and it’s a simple one:
When you see a great deal on something – stock up!
Let’s say notebooks are on sale at your local store for 10% off. Rather than just buying the one you need now, purchase enough to last you the rest of the year. That way, you’ve saved 10% on your entire school year – well, at least on notebooks anyway!
Things like pencils, crayons, pens, and notebooks are staples so stocking up on them makes sense.
When you see a good deal, buy some extras so that you have enough to last you throughout the year.
16. Shop at these cheap stores
Don’t get swept up by those expensive stationery stores. I mean, I love a good notebook, but I don’t need to go overboard and purchase the most expensive one.
I’ve found that whenever I’ve needed to get supplies, these stores have always served me well:
- Dollar General
- TJ MAXX
- Dollar Tree
I really like TJ Maxx for notebooks. I’ve found notebooks at my local store that cost half of what I’d pay for a similar thing at other stores. And, the notebooks are really great quality too – they have thick paper and sturdy covers that are going to last me well.
So, if you do come to purchase some stuff, make sure you give the stores above a try.
17. Buy at the right time
It’s not just where you purchase your school supplies that can save you money, but also when you purchase them.
And, one of the best times you can buy school supplies is after students go back to school in September. When the summer rush of back-to-school shopping is over, many stores will hold September clearance sales.
So, if you can wait until this time, then you can get some great savings. You’ll find plenty of clearance bins and items on sale.
This means that you can get stuff at a much lower price than you would have found it just a month before.
Like I said above, make sure you stock up on staple items when you find them at a great price.
18. Use coupon and deal sites
Okay, next we have a tip that you can use to save money on pretty much any item on your supplies checklist.
And it’s a simple one:
Use coupon and deal sites. On these websites, you can find all sorts of deals that’ll save you money, like:
- Promo codes
You can often find deals to use online, and in-store deals too, which is awesome. Some of these coupons and other deals can offer some great savings. And, like I said above, these sites often list details about free stuff!
Here are some great coupon and deals websites that you can check out:
19. Shop with Drop
Need some extra cash to get supplies? An easy way to make extra money is to use Drop. This is an app that sort of works like a loyalty program. So, you earn points on your purchases, which you can later redeem for gift cards.
But, there’s a key difference. Instead of being rewarded for shopping at a specific store, you earn rewards at lots of different stores.
All you need to do is link your debit cards or credit cards to your Drop account. Then, simply shop at a participating store and pay for your purchase using the linked card. You’ll earn points automatically and you can redeem these points for Walmart gift cards.
Essentially, you’re earning money just for doing shopping that you would have done anyway, so using Drop really is a no-brainer!
You can use your gift cards to purchase supplies at no cost!
- Visit the Drop website here.
Here’s where to get the Drop app:
Enjoy Your Free School Supplies!
There are so many organizations out there which can help you to get much needed school supplies. So if you’re in need consider contacting places like the Salvation Army because you could get some help. Now, that’s not all – don’t forget to check on sites like CL and OfferUp since you can often find people giving away supplies on there.
And, finally, keep our tips on getting free or cheap school supplies in mind! Using apps like Ibotta, and websites like TopCashback is such a great idea because you get free money for shopping that you’d already be doing anyway.
Finally, keep my shopping tips in mind like shopping at the right times, using coupons, and stocking up when you see great deals. All these tips can help you to save so much money on school supplies.
Do you have any tips on where to find free school supplies? If so, share them with us in the comments section below.