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Back to School Deals: Donate Those Extra School Supplies

by Tara Kuczykowski on July 28, 2010 · 17 comments

school suppliesPhoto by Brandi Korte

The back-to-school sales are in full swing, and cheap school supplies are abundant at grocery stores, drugstores and super stores. From $0.25 packs of crayons and glue sticks to free backpacks and pencils, this really is the time to stock up.

As you're stocking up for your own family, though, consider buying a few extras here and there to donate to other people who may not be as fortunate as you. With even $5 a week, you could make a huge difference if you're shopping the sales!

Here are five opportunities to help. Be sure to share other causes you know of in the comments as well!

1. Operation Christmas Child

Every year, Operation Christmas Child delivers more than 8 million shoe boxes to children in third-world countries who may not have all of the basic necessities, let alone luxuries like crayons, balls and toys. Now is a great time to begin stocking up on school and art supplies to pack your own boxes. And as Karen recently pointed out in an email, it's a great time to stock up on shoe boxes for your gifts as you do back-to-school shoe shopping as well.

2. Operation Backpack

In the United States, Operation Backpack projects are springing up around the country as schools and organizations collect backpacks full of school supplies to donate to needy families. To find an organization local to you, search "Operation Backpack" with a city name. For example, Operation Backpack Columbus, Ohio. Start with your local area and then search the larger metropolitan areas if needed.

3. Adopt a Classroom

If you're looking to have a larger impact, consider adopting a classroom in a low-income area and donating the items that each class specifically needs. For more information, check out or

4. Donate to a Local Church or School

If you have a relationship with your local school or church, be sure to check with them directly to see which supplies they could use. From public elementary schools to private preschools to homeschool coops, chances are that they could all use some extra supplies!

5. Donate Internationally

You can also donate directly to smaller international organizations that may have supplies sent over with visitors (such as adoptive parents traveling to an orphanage to get their child or volunteers working with missions). If you support an organization directly or through your church or know someone who is in the process of adopting, be sure to ask if they can use school supplies and see about packing an extra bag for the trip!

Do you stock up on extras in order to be able to donate them? What else do you do with your extra school supplies?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stacey Carter July 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

I think this is one reason that I am so passionate about couponing. I am able to share so much with others. I am able to share so much with the local food pantry, my church and the school that I work at.


2 Anny July 28, 2010 at 10:56 am

We are on our 9th year of our families Backpacks for Kids project.
The kids and I have now helped fill 6000 backpacks since we began this humble project born out of the 4 pay it forward backpacks given to our kids
when our Becca was in the Children's hospital. God keeps providing...
the quarters, crayons, and backpacks keep coming in from his blessings.


3 Amy L July 28, 2010 at 11:28 am

Our church is doing Operation Christmas Child and Operation Backpack for Appalachian kids. I also helped a single mom get backpacks for her kids thanks to Staples!


4 Dizzy Mommy July 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

I'm in the Detroit metro area, we live in what is considered a really nice area. But in todays economy low income can be your next door neighbor and you have no idea. Think about also donating just to your local school for children whose parents cannot afford to purchase the amounts of school supplies some schools now require. Last year retail for my high schooler not counting her calculator it was over $300 for school supplies for the average family, and most the schools don't care if a child cannot afford it. Teachers and schools are stretched so thin right now, and in states like Michigan where families are falling to rock bottom overnight even with parents working don't forget about the people who are at your kids schools who need help. We helped my sons classmate because we saw the foreclosure notice dropped off while out walking. I'd never seen a happier kid or parent and frankly I felt wonderful knowing I had helped somebody who doesn't get the help they need because people don't feel that they should get it. Hard times are every place right now, and your next door neighbor or kids best friend could be included in it. I guess thats how I feel because of where l live, for years I've seen kids in Detroit get help, while the last several years kids here in burbs are floundering. There are so many programs set up to help low income areas, don't forget how hard things maybe down the street. I'm not saying dont help low income, but I am saying dont forget how hard times are right now everyplace. In Michigan where I am in its hard to see how fast things fall.


5 Paula July 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Just wanted to thank you for the mention of the international need! Our daughter is adopted from Kazakhstan and we took all that we could for the kids in the orphanage that we had to leave behind. If anyone is looking for a stateside organization to donate to that gets stuff to orphans, I highly recommend "Two Hearts for Hope". They are a great organization that sends care packages to orphanages for free with traveling families. I am in no way associated with this organization, other than I love what they do! If anyone needs more info, their website is:
Thanks again for all that you do!


6 Carrie July 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Thank you for encouraging your readers to donate school supplies! Our church did a backpack collection/giveaway last year and we were able to give 100. This year we want to give 200. Each child also gets a free haircut by Premier Salon Concept in Dublin, OH when they come to get a backpack. The national organizations are great, but local churches and area groups are doing great things as well.


7 Beth B August 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Carrie-Has your church already had their backpack give away? If not can you tell me how my family might sign up. I have 2 children in the Dublin City School district. Due to financial difficulties we have not been able to purchase any school supplies yet + they start school Monday. Thank you, Beth B.


8 Stephanie Culligan July 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Check your local County Office of Education. Many of them offer programs to put together backpacks for homeless/poor, etc. kids. They stuff the backpacks full of school supplies.


9 mamacoups July 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm

My friend teaches at a school where its all low income and the parents cant afford even new clothes for their children. My daughter isn't in school yet, but I feel that my 20$ that i just spent goes A LONG way....1 cent file folders! 5 cent protractors! 25 crayons and the good ones, crayola!!!! A lot of schools can also use cookie cutters for the little kids play time when playing with dough. She has a whole box of file folders, crayons, markers, glue sticks, cookie cutters, pens, paper, notebooks for the kids. Whatever has been on sale there is a ton of it in her box!!!!

I am always donating.... i donate to the as well all the time. they are a great organization and the lady in my area is so nice and thankful.


10 Anita July 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

For the past few years, i've called the kids' teachers during the first week of school. Both years, they have had numerous kids with families who couldn't afford the school supplies and the teachers usually bought the supplies with his/her own money. So, i donated the surplus supplies that i got from these cheap deals.


11 Diane July 29, 2010 at 8:42 am

When we went to Ethiopia to adopt our boys, we brought totes full of school supplies that we collected (cheaply by shopping back to school sales) and had friends donate. When we heard that other families were planning trips, we shopped the sales and sent them off with school supplies as well. What a wonderful way to change the life of a child for just a few cents...many adoption agencies collect supplies and other needed items like coats and blankets and send them with families traveling to meet their children.


12 Michelle July 29, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Ladies love it!!! I'm so glad that this was posted! Honestly I think it should be applied in all areas. Back to school can be a crippling time for some families (my best friend has 5 to buy school supplies for!). Please consider what you can donate all year though. We get soooo many awesome deals and especially the free ones that there is no reason to not donate some of it to your local food pantry, your church, your schools, ect. I actually have a tub in the laundry room where if it was under $1 (especially free items) and I have enough for my family (not talking enough for a year but enough to get me to the next great deal ie: we were getting free men's body wash like there was no tomorrow for a while so I kept 4 and donated the rest) then it goes in the tub. When the tub starts to have several things in it I take it to be donated. Diaper samples, I do not have bebies anymore but they are free and only took me a min to request...... they all go in the tub. The deals have been good to us but those who need the help the most usually do not have internet access or no printer.
While I am already writting on the matter I have to say I was completely disgusted the other day! I was out garage saleing and stopped at one where the lady's garage was FULL of the free deals. The very same free deals that have been posted and treasured by all DSMs out there. The problem was that she was taking total advantage of people. She was charging $3 for the bottles of free men's body wash, $4 for the free razors, $2 for the free toothbrushes and so on. She had piles of them, waaaaaaaay more than her share. Not only was she ripping people off but she is the exact type of person that ruins couponing for us all. Stores get stricter on thier policies, they start rejecting any printed coupons (stores in our area have), and when you get to walgreens sunday morning the items that rewards make free are gone....... completely and they don't have the items all week. The socks walgreens had free, our wags never had...... they said some lady came in and got ALL of them. They never got anymore until after the sale was over and this lady had a whole box of them she was selling for 2.50ea.
I can understand stocking up on something that dose not go on sale often or something your family loves, even doing multiples of a deal where you are going to donate most of it to help others in your community. I do not understand taking all of something available then selling it to others who could not get the deal because you took them all! I do think it's awesome to get an item for super cheap, even better free, and even better yet free with overage. I also think that Karma will catch up to someone who takes those deals then charges others for them. We have all been very blessed to have the ability to comunicate with eachother and share in our savings just keep in mind when you get home and are putting away 3 bottles of shampoo that you will use but is not your fav that there is someone out there who has no shampoo who needs to be blessed as well.
Back to school dose not just mean school supplies; there are things we take forgranted like clean clothes, clean hair, clean teeth, soap for our showers, snacks for after school, games to play, ect. Things that you don't think about on a daily baisis as a blessing where we are used to seeking out the best deal for and is easy to forget how blessed we are. Could you imagine going to school teeth not brushed because there was no toothpaste, dirty hair because there was no shampoo, dirty clothes because laundry soap was too expensive this pay check. It happens in every school, every community. Those kids are made fun of for it and the DSMs have the ability to help others even though we may not have any actual money to give.

"If you have only one dollar in your pocket but are not willing to share that dollar with someone who has none you do not deserve to have that one dollar. If you have one dollar in your pocket and you sare it with someone who has none the belssings will come and somehow in one way or another you will be taken care of with what you need."


13 Jeff July 29, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Another place to check for donation ideas might be groups at local hospitals. I live in Indianapolis and our county hospital (Wishard) has a program called Embrace that collects basic living items to provide to women and single moms who have cancer and cannot afford to provide for their families during treatment. My closet was bursting with all the toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc that I had been collecting (and that was with avoiding some sales) so I started donating to Embrace. I'm likley not spending a thing after coupons and rebates but I've managed to provide hundreds of dollars worth of toiletries to a pretty worthy cause. If you live in Indy, call Wishard and ask about the Embrace program. If not check out what groups are doing at you local hospitals.


14 Michelle July 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I am collecting school supplies for families in Honduras who can barely afford sending one child to school. I am in the south florida area and would love to hear if you are interested in supporting the children! Email me at

Thank you for your time!


15 Emilie Hannon December 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Another option is to send the supplies to a non-profit organization called Pennies for Pencils ( They donate supplies to Michigan Public Schools that are in need of supplies - from the basics all the way to calculators and computers.

Pennies for Pencils
Attn: Cory Beadle
31285 Minton st
Livonia MI 48150


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17 Angels with Faith Ministries 501c3 charity August 2, 2012 at 1:55 am

We are Angels with Faith Ministries a 501c3 non-profit charity located in Winder, Georgia (Barrow county) & we help anywhere in Georgia (Barrow, Jackson county, Gwinnett, Athens, Hall, ALL counties in Georgia, etc etc). We are conducting our annual School supply & clothing donation Drive from July to August (school begins 1st week of August) to prepare underpriveleged kids grades K -12 for teh new school year.Many families can barely get by & pay their household bills to keep a roof over their childrens heads & they need our help desperately. We already have over 200 children on our school supply & clothing needs list & more coming in daily.You can donate in person at 722 Chicken Lyle Rd , Winder, GA 30680( we are a home based charity so that we have 0 overhead costs & can help more families by giving 100% of ALL donations towar
d helping those in true need), we also have volunteers 7 days a week to pickup donations within 30 miles of Winder, GA 30680, you can also donate online to help us purchase much needed supplies & clothing at angelswithfaithministries.​ & angelswithfaithministries.​org via paypal(you will instantly be able to print a tax deductible donation receipt), by mail or we can use donated gift cards to purchase school supplies as well. ALL donations are tax deductible for every cent that you spend & all donations go directly to providing much needed supplies & clothing & shoes for these many many children in true need. PLEASE be an angel & help us make this year another success, there are no other programs in this area who haven't already distributed school supplies to needy families & school will start soon Thank you & GOD BLESS, Lori Tuck Director of Angels with faith Ministries, Winder GA We also have a registry wishlist to which we add each childs actual school list supplies as the needs come in &you can purchase 1 thing or as many as you would like from the list & they will come directly to the charity to be distributed & your receipt will contain all information that you will need for your tax deduction The wishlist is under the name Lori Tuck (I am director & Angels with Faith Ministries name wouldn't fit into the name box but will show up on your receipt) the date to enter is August 7 & the state is Georgia any help at all tacking this very long needs list would be greatly appreciated by all of the children grades K-12 in true need.


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