Free School Supplies For Kids From Harlem To Hollis

August 19, 2016

Oregami-withthe-kids2School supplies can cost a bundle, but families who are in need (or simply have back to school street smarts) can find free gear around New York at the following events (and even online) before send the kids back to school.

Remember, now’s always a great time to give back! If you are not in need of school supplies or are able to volunteer, sponsor or donate, be sure to explore each website for involvement opportunities.

Habana Outpost

Habana Outpost is known for its super kid-friendly atmosphere, and the Annual Back to School Bash (Sept 7 11am-3pm 2015) doesn’t disappoint. There are fun (free) crafts and activities for kids, there’s delicious food available for purchase and kids (first-come, first-served) generally receive a tote with items like pencils, a comp book, stickers and a ruler. This year, there’s also a concurrent art show featuring work from three local kiddos!

Cool for School presented by #TakeCareofHarlem

Non-profit group #TakeCareofHarlem is working with neighborhood businesses Harlem Haberdashery and Paw Prints of Harlem to provide back-to-school supplies (and some fun activities!) for 500 K–12 students. Stop in at Harlem Haberdashery or Paw Prints of Harlem to grab a free golden ticket by 3pm on August 22, then head to Harlem Hospital Center’s Mural Pavilion (506 Lenox Ave at W 136th St) from 12–4pm on August 23rd to get in on the giveaways. In addition to snagging backpacks, notebooks, pencils and pens, families can enjoy live music, group fitness, Harlem Jeopardy, crafts, face painting, bracelet-making and a create-your-own binder project.

ICNA Relief Back to School Giveaway

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For kids in need, Islamic Circle of North America comes to the rescue! Its Back-2-School Giveaway (Aug 22 2pm 2015) in Yonkers (location TBA) gave 4000 bags to NYC children last year and has the intention to do the same in 2015, promoting children’s education across America. Check their website as the date draws closer for further information on the event location.

Operation Homefront

With the help of Dollar Tree, Operation Homefront’s Back to School Brigade donates backpacks to DEERS–enrolled military dependent children (deployed, wounded or active duty including National Guard and Reserve) from kindergarten through 12th grade. While their locations aren’t exactly in NYC, if you happen to be in the New York area, they may be worth a visit. To register for supplies (NY locations include Newburgh, Fort Drum, Fort Totten and Syracuse with other pop-ups in Groton, CT and Warwick, RI), click the “Register Now!” link—supplies are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and ID for all registered children will be required at the event.

Verizon The Cellular Connection: Free Backpack and School Supplies

Verizon is hosting a School Rocks Backpack Giveaway this year courtesy of The Cellular Connection (Aug 1 noon-3pm 2015) at select locations around NYC. Click the link to search the NYC area for locations (they’ll pop up below the map), and then call ahead before the event to verify their participation. Supplies are available on a first-come, first-served basis—each child may receive one backpack, and children must be present (parents may not collect on their child’s behalf).

Cruise through listings on

Families looking for free school gear might be able to find it right in their own backyard! Freecycle, a community organization that stretches across the U.S., is a free service for people to post listings for free, unwanted items that might be of use to someone else. Members can also post listings with items they’re looking for in their specific borough. Look out for curb alerts!

Know of any great back to school giveaway events or locations near you? E-mail with your suggestion or post on our Facebook page at hwmag.

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