With young students returning to school soon, it’s time to start thinking about where to get school supplies such as backpacks, notebooks and pencils.
The cost of these can add up quickly, but luckily there are folks in our neighborhoods organizing drives to make sure children have access to supplies they need at a price they can afford or for free.
This list of back-to-school drives shows that preparing children for school is a community effort, as items and services are offered by churches, nail salons, barber shops, radio stations and more.
Most of the drives require your child to be present to receive free supplies.
Don’t see a drive or donation opportunity listed? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to get free or discounted school supplies
Change 4 Sylville Smith bookbag drive: Saturday, Aug. 13
The sixth annual bookbag drive in memory of Sylville Smith, who was killed by a Milwaukee police officer in 2016, runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Sherman Park, located at 3000 N. Sherman Blvd. In addition to free school supplies, there will also be a bike giveaway, free food and live music.
A’lanit fashion backpack giveaway: Saturday, Aug. 13
Backpacks will be given away while supplies last starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the intersection of North 68th Street and West Fiebrantz Avenue.
Back-to-school giveaway at Lindsay Park: Saturday, Aug. 13
Book bags and school supplies will be given away, and there will be bounce houses, raffles, games and food, from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Lindsay Park, located at 4360 N. 87th St.
Operation Back to School: Saturday, Aug. 13
Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative is hosting this event to prepare veterans and their children for the start of the new school year with school supplies, lunch, bounce houses and games. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Liberty Heights Park, located at 1540 S. 62nd St. RSVP by calling 414-257-4111
27th annual King Community Center Breakfast and Back to School Event: Saturday, Aug. 13
WJMR Jammin’ 98.3 hosts this breakfast and back-to- school event where children who are present get a bookbag full of school supplies and a free breakfast. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center, located at 1531 W. Vliet St.
School supply giveaway at Risen Savior Lutheran School: Saturday, Aug. 13
Any kindergarten through 8th grade child can receive school supplies and get their hair cut or braided from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 3909 W. Clinton Ave.
Free haircuts from Fade Factory: Sunday, Aug. 14
Fade Factory barbers will be giving free haircuts to youths 13 and younger from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 7515 W. Oklahoma Ave. Cuts will be given on a first come, first served basis.
Heal the Hood and African American Roundtable back-to-school block party: Saturday, Aug. 20
Get a book bag and school supplies while enjoying free food, yoga in the park, more than 30 local vendors, a children’s corner, music and performances. The event lasts from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at Clovernook Playfield, located at 6600 N. Landers St.
My Little Dreamers back-to-school drive: Saturday, Aug. 20
My Little Dreamers Child Care Center is organizing its seventh annual school supply drive. You can get free book bags and school supplies while the kids enjoy food, games, a bounce house and face paint. The drive lasts from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 4036 N. 51st Blvd.
Noir’e Hair District back to school giveaway: Saturday, Aug. 20
Noir’e Hair District has organized a giveaway of free clothing and school supplies from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 1947 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Children must be present.
Book bag giveaway and free hairstyles and cuts for kids: Saturday, Aug. 20
Lavish Crowns LLC hosts this book bag and school supply giveaway with free hairstyles and cuts for kids returning to school. The giveaway runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 7319 N. Teutonia Ave.
Book bag giveaway and resource fair: Saturday, Aug. 20
Mommie & Me Prenatal Care Services is hosting a book bag giveaway and resource fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 2829 N. Teutonia Ave.
School supplies and live performances: Saturday, Aug. 20
Amazing Angels Child Care hosts this event where parents can get free school supplies and enjoy live performances while the kids enjoy bounce houses at this kid-friendly event. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at the intersection of North 11th and West Clarke streets.
Back-to-school festival and talent show at Washington Park: Sunday, Aug. 21
Supply-filled backpacks, kid-friendly vendors, a talent show for youth ages 6 through 16, bounce houses and more will be at the Washington Park bandshell from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21
Back 2 school pop up shop: Saturday, Aug. 27
Free backpacks and school supplies for children who are present between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 1935 W. Silver Spring Drive.
Back to school car show: Saturday, Aug. 27
Free backpacks with school supplies, free haircuts, a car show, horse rides and more at this back-to-school event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 at McGovern Park Area 1, located at 5400 N. 51st Blvd. M
Community day at Brentwood Church of Christ: Saturday, Aug. 27
This day party includes free school supplies and clothes in addition to resources for seniors, food, entertainment, a motorcycle show and local vendors. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 6425 N. 60th St.
Back-to-school giveaway at the Center Street Library: Friday, Sept. 2
School supplies will be given away at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Center Street branch from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2 at 2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave.
Back to school giveaway: Saturday, Sept. 3
Get school supplies as well as food, face painting and raffles from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 8700 W. Brown Deer Rd.
How to help
The MPS Foundation is not hosting a public giveaway of school supplies but will be raising $50,000 through Sept. 14 to purchase book bags and supplies for students. Instructions for how to donate here.
MPS is also collecting school supplies in-kind and monetary donations to purchase supplies through Sept. 9. Instructions on how to donate here.
Capuchin Community Services is collecting in-kind and monetary donations now through Aug. 19. More information here.
United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County is collecting donations to purchase school supplies here.
The Milwaukee Rescue Mission is collecting in-kind and monetary donations, more information here.
As part of the Eighth Annual Sleepover for Education, Tracey Dent, executive director of Peace for Change Alliance, is collecting in-kind and monetary donations to bring school supplies to one MPS school. More information here.
First Day Fits is accepting clothing through Aug. 12 for young people returning to school. Details on how to donate here.