All students deserve equal access to education and the tools they need to succeed. But providing those tools can be expensive; the yearly costs of school supplies can reach up to $100 or more per child.The unfortunate reality is that, for many families, basic school supplies are out of reach. There are 625,000 children in New York City under the age of twelve who face poverty. To help meet this need, there are several organizations and events throughout New York City that provide school supplies from crayons to backpacks, for free.
No child should go without the supplies they need to learn, grow, and enjoy being a kid. Here are some places where families can get free school supplies in New York City.
Salvation Army Family Services
The Salvation Army has locations in all NYC boroughs. They partner with local nonprofits and donors to provide free clothing and school supplies for children every year. The Salvation Army also offers emergency services for families in need of help with groceries, rent, utilities, and more. They help thousands of families every year including those who face sudden unexpected hardship due to the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, and more.
Cradles to Crayons
Cradles to Crayons is a national organization based in New York that provides free clothing, shoes, and school supplies to children experiencing homelessness or poverty. They collect new (or nearly new) items from community drives or corporate donations, process them in their Giving Factory with the help of volunteers, and distribute them through a network of service partners.
The River Fund
The River Fund is a New York City organization dedicated to fighting poverty especially through access to food and education. Qualifying low-income families and children can get an entire set of school supplies, including backpacks, shoes, notebooks and pencils, for free.
Child Center of New York
The Child Center of New York began as a counseling center in Queens nearly 70 years ago, and has since become a powerful community resource with 50 locations throughout the city. They take a holistic approach to supporting children and families in under-served communities. The Child Center of NY holds an annual backpack drive collecting and distributing backpacks fully stocked with school supplies.
ICNA Back2School Program
The Islamic Circle of North America’s Back2School Program aims to reduce the effect of poverty on a child’s education by offering free backpacks and high-quality school supplies to families in need.
New York State of Mind (NYSoM)
New York State of Mind is an organization dedicated to community wellbeing. They hold a variety of outreach programs including a Back to School Bonanza where they distribute sets of school supplies.
Local businesses, churches, and community groups like Catholic Charities, the United Way and the Boys and Girls Club will often hold pop-up giveaway events around back-to-school time. If you’re not sure where to look or you’re having trouble finding free school supplies where you live, you can call 311 for the Department of Social Services and someone will refer you to resources near you.
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