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Collect School Supplies for Needy Children

The National Retail Federation 2010 found that the average American family spends more than $600 on back to school supplies, with about $100 spent on school supplies. For many families however, the beginning of a new school year is a financial burden on homeless and destitute children. You can help a child in need by collecting and delivering school supplies.


Decide which school or schoolchildren will receive the supplies. Consider sending the supplies overseas or needy schools in urban areas. Some church members or their families may be stationed in a war-torn country. Ask if the local schools there need supplies.

  • Contact the local school principal to find out what items are needed and how they should be assembled (in sets of in bulk).
  • Set a time, date and place to assemble the supplies. Try using a large hall in your church. Designate a drop-off location for the supplies.
  • Get the word out to recruit volunteers and get school supplies.
  • Collect school supplies. As parents shop for school supplies (in the beginning of the school year or during tax-free weekend), encourage each of them to shop for a couple additional children. Ask local businesses for donations, or if you could place donation boxes at their establishments. Here are some ideas:
    • Pens
    • No. 2 pencils and sharpeners
    • Erasers
    • Crayons
    • Water-based markers
    • Dull-tip scissors
    • Rulers
    • Index cards
    • Three-ring binders
    • Pocket folders
    • Notebooks
    • Calculators
    • Glue sticks
    • Pencil cases
    • paper towels
    • hand sanitizer
    • backpacks
    • Stapler
  • If collecting supplies to send overseas, here are some other ideas:
    • English alphabet flash cards
    • Number flash cards
    • Math problem flash cards
    • Small chalk boards and chalk
    • Pencils and sharpeners
    • Spiral bound notebooks
    • Maps of the world
    • Sticky putty to secure pictures on the wall
  • As donations come in, have volunteers to sort through the items.
  • On the day of the event, set up refreshments for volunteers. Because this event generally takes four to five hours, consider playing music in the background.
  • Organize an assembly line to help you pack efficiently. If requested/preferred, Pack supplies into the backpacks. 
  • Deliver and distribute the school supplies. If sending them overseas, check with the school staff for delivery instructions and restrictions.


  • Encourage the children in your church to participate in this project. They can help pick up school supplies and give suggestions.
  • When sending supplies overseas, you may need to collect only generic items without logos.
  • Another way to distribute the school supplies is to invite community members to the church for a collection and/or social event, e.g. Back to School Festival.