Need school supplies? Here’s Your Guide to Back-to-School Gifts in Chicago


GRAND BOULEVARD — Chicago public school students return to those classes Aug. 22 — meaning parents and guardians are busy providing them with supplies.

But spending on school supplies has increased with inflation, and many are still struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local groups organize giveaways of school supplies and walks around Chicago to help families.

Block Club has rounded up school supply giveaways across the city to help you, whether you’re looking to donate or buy supplies.

More information on how to prepare for school — such as registration procedures, health requirements, and a list of supplies needed by grade level — is available on the CPS Back to School website here.

Do you have an event to add? Email

Credit: Salvation Army
Free backpacks during a back-to-school giveaway

South side

Park Boulevard Back to School Event
Families can enjoy music, food, games, a bouncy house, face painting and more as they receive free school supplies. For more information, call Michael Miles at 312-221-5111.
3720 S. State St., rear of building
10am-1pm Saturday

Check out the Shine Bright back-to-school event
The credit card company’s event will offer free food, music, makeup and supplies for students on a first-come, first-served basis in the parking lot of the new Discover Customer Service Center.
8650 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
10am-2pm Saturday

Guns Down Books Up
The Rose Cafe will host a Sunday Peace Walk in Roseland, culminating in a community farmers market hosted by Burst into Books where students will receive free school supplies.
11001 S. Indiana Ave.
10am-12pm Sunday

Chicago Urban League Back-to-School Festival
Free school supplies for K-12 students will be available at this event, along with COVID-19 vaccines, food, music, raffles and other giveaways.
4510 S. Michigan Ave.
10am-1pm Saturday

CPS back-to-school celebrations
There will be music, food, games and activities for families. Students can pick up school supplies, meet their teachers, and get their COVID shots. Events take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday: Fenger Academy High School, 11220 S. Wallace St.
Wednesday: Chicago Vocational High School, 2100 E. 87th St.
August 12: William F. Finkl Academy, 2332 S. Western Ave.

9th Ward Back to School Event
Aldus. Anthony Beale – in partnership with SC Johnson, Save the Children, Nickelodeon and Pullman Community Center – is hosting a family event with games, food and fun. Students can receive backpacks full of supplies, learning materials, and other resources.
10355 S. Woodlawn Ave.
4-7 p.m. Tuesday

TCA Health Back-to-School Health Fair
There will be physical and dental exams, healthy food demonstration, live music, bouncy house, petting zoo and more. There will also be gifts of backpacks and school supplies, vegetables and food.
1029 E. 130th St.
11am-3pm Wednesday

Lakeside Alliance Open House and Back to School Event
Lakeside Alliance, the builder of the Obama Presidential Center, is hosting a back-to-school event at its resource center. Participants can pick up school supplies and information on careers in the construction trades during the open house.
1514 E. 63rd Street
1-3pm August 12

10th Ward Back-to-School Contest
Aldus. Susan Sadlowski Garza hosts the Back to School Block Party on the Far South Side. School supplies will be distributed in limited quantities. The children must be present and live in the 10th arrondissement.
10500 S. Ewing Ave.
10am-12pm August 13

Credit: Max Herman/Chalkbeat
Students and staff walk the halls of Senn High School in April.

4th quarter gift
Aldus. Sophia King teams up with State Representative Kam Buckner, Meridian of Illinois, Near North Health, Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, Senator Robert Peters and Cook County Commissioner, Bill Lowry, for a back-to-school event with resources for residents, plus free mammograms, vaccinations and haircuts.
Ellis Park, 3520 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
2pm-6pm August 16

back to school gift
Toci, La Diosa organizes a giveaway where each child will receive school supplies adapted to their level, and the organizers will organize a raffle to give away a backpack full of school supplies. A conversation on mental health will follow at 7 p.m.
3656 E. 106th St.
5-7 p.m. August 16

City Motivators Back-to-School Contest
The nonprofit organizes this giveaway with backpacks, school supplies, food and drink, music, games and raffles.
Local Market Foods, 2101 E. 71st St.
4-6pm August 17 or while supplies last

Back to school and wellness event
The South Chicago Neighborhood Network will be handing out supplies at its free event. Families can enjoy food, games and entertainment. There will also be a bike raffle.
9100 S. Brandon Ave.
10am-12.30pm August 18

Second Annual Bridges and Youth Leadership Council School Supplies Contest
More than 200 school supply kits will be distributed while supplies last. Students must be present to receive one. There is also a postcard making station.
Noon August 21

Western coast

2nd District Back-to-School Fair
Fun, games and free school supplies will be there for residents. Those who need vaccines. are invited to complete this interest form. Contact Ald. Office of Brian Hopkins (2nd) at 312-643-2299 or for any questions.
800 block of North Leavitt Street to West Rice Street
2-6 p.m. Friday

Ramirez Back-to-School Family Fair
Representative Delia Ramirez and Senator Omar Aquino are hosting the back-to-school family fair this weekend at the Bloc. There will be live music, games and activities, free food and resources, and free school bags with supplies for adults who attend with their children. Families can renew their driver’s license and identity documents, receive school medical exams, health screenings and STI/HIV services. Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older will also be available.
1345 N. Karlov Ave.
10am-2pm Saturday

Credit: Stacey Rupolo/Chalkbeat
Students in the halls of North-Grand High School in Chicago.

International Masons and Stars of the East Parade and BBQ
Grand Lodge William V. Banks and Grand Chapter Lillian Gill will host the free event Saturday at Levin Park, which will begin with a parade at noon and cap off the event with a barbecue, games and backpacking. Children must be present to receive a schoolbag.
5458 W. Kinzie Parkway
Noon-8 p.m. Saturday

CPS Back to School Party
There will be music, food, games and activities for families. Students can pick up school supplies, meet their teachers, and get their COVID shots.
Michele Clark High School, 5101 W. Harrison St.
2-5 p.m. August 11

12th Ward Back to School Fair
Aldus. George Cardenas (12th) will host a back-to-school event with free school supplies, eye exams, immunizations, COVID-19 shots, food and refreshments. Everything is available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.
McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Roa
10am-1pm August 13

North Coast

Chicago Tabernacle Back-to-School Weekend Celebration
The North Side Church will start the weekend with a backpack and end it with a special Sunday service. Children can benefit from free dental screenings while enjoying food and games. Backpacks filled with school supplies will be distributed while supplies last.
3231 N. Cicero Ave.
9am-2pm Friday

491th Ward Back to School Bash
Aldus. Maria Hadden (49th) is hosting a giveaway where families can pick up school supplies while playing games and learning about other resources available to them.
1500 W. Lunt Ave., next to Eugene Field Elementary
2-5 p.m. Friday

Credit: Max Herman for Chalkbeat

CPS Back to School Party
Music, food, games and activities for families. Students can collect school supplies, meet their teachers and get vaccinated against COVID-19.
2-5 p.m. Friday
Field Elementary School, 7019 N. Ashland Ave.

Collection of backpack donations for the return to school of RefugeeONE
The North Side organization which provides services to refugee families is collecting 400 backpacks full of notebooks, paper, pencils, pens and pencils and other supplies ahead of Saturday’s giveaway.
Unity Lutheran Church, 1212 W. Balmoral Ave.
11am-1pm Saturday

Kelvyn Park Back to School Fair
Students can receive free backpacks, school supplies, dental checkups and COVID-19 vaccines while checking local vendors. There will also be food and activities for children.
4438 W. Wrightwood Ave.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. August 13

Chicago Neighborhood Back to School Event near Northside
1 JAR Foundation, a gun violence prevention nonprofit in honor of 9-year-old Janari Ricks, is hosting a school supply drive in partnership with Hug A Child Make A Change.
The group is collecting donations until August 13 and is looking for school supplies, school bags, snacks, drinks and gift cards so young people can buy other school essentials. Volunteers are needed for the event. Call 312-383-1965 for more information on depositing donations.
18th Police District Parking Lot, 1160 N. Larrabee St.
12pm-4pm August 14
Monetary donations accepted here
You can also support the band’s Amazon wishlist here

On line

  • Cradles to Crayons accepts monetary donations for school supplies. A donation of $33 will support clothing and supplies for the first week of school. The first $40,000 in donations will be matched. Link
  • back to school america invites people to build or buy school supply kits containing approximately 30 items each. Each kit for different grade levels costs $22.50. Link

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