Where to donate school supplies and why should you

Jhe poverty rate for children under 18 in the United States rose from 14.4% in 2019 to 16.1% in 2020, according to the Census Bureau, leaving many families with school-aged children with a tight budget. In fact, according to a survey by Lending Tree, 29% of parents say they cannot afford school supplies for their children.

If you want to give back to your community and support students and teachers, donating school supplies can be a meaningful way to make a difference. This article explains where to donate school supplies and why you should.

Why should you consider donating school supplies?

Every year, some parents struggle to buy essential school supplies for their children. As a result, children may start the school year without enough school supplies, often leaving teachers to fill the void.

A 2021 National Center for Education Statistics survey of US teachers found that 94% of public school teachers pay for school supplies with their own funds. According to a survey by the nonprofit organization Adoptaclassroom.org, teachers spent an average of $750 of their own money buying supplies for their classrooms during the 2020-21 school year.

For 30% of teachers surveyed, the cost was $1,000 or more. Additionally, teachers spent an average of $160 on personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depending on where you donate school supplies, your donation may be tax deductible. Ask an organization to find out if your donation can be considered a charitable contribution.

By donating school supplies, you are helping students get the tools they need to learn throughout the school year. You can also help relieve some of the stress and financial burdens that teachers constantly face.

Below is information on where to donate school supplies and what supplies are requested.

The best school supplies to give away

If you’re looking for school supply donation ideas, read on for common items teachers and students use in their classrooms.

art supplies

Art supplies, such as construction paper, crayons, glue, and other consumable items are staples in many preschool and elementary classrooms, so they’re always needed.


Every child needs a backpack to carry books and supplies to school. Good quality backpacks can be expensive, so some families may struggle to afford durable backpacks for their children. When properly cared for, backpacks can last more than a school year, so students can get the most out of them.


Although calculators are available on smartphones, not all students have smartphones and schools may not allow students to use their phones during class. Different types of calculators serve different purposes. So while a young college student may get by with a basic calculator, a high school student may need a more advanced (and expensive) calculator.

If you are donating calculators to a specific class or school, first check what type of calculators would be appropriate.

Hygiene and cleaning products

Tissues, paper towels, antibacterial wipes, antibacterial sprays and hand sanitizers are necessities in any classroom. Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in classrooms is an essential step in keeping classrooms clean and preventing the spread of illnesses like COVID-19, the flu, or the common cold.

Laptops and tablets

Donating a laptop or tablet can provide technology access to a child whose family has limited financial resources. Check local organizations for those that accept gently used computer equipment or funds to purchase such equipment and donate it to local schools. These organizations may consider some computers to be too old or obsolete, so be sure to check all requirements before donating.


School supplies may vary by grade, but students of all ages use notebooks. These are handy for writing first drafts, tracking data from a science experiment, and everything in between.

Sport equipment

Some schools accept donations of sports equipment for use during recess and physical education classes. Since schools may use specific types of sports equipment, you should check with a school before purchasing items to donate.

writing instruments

You can never have too many pencils, highlighters, pens, or markers in a classroom, so writing instruments are great items to give away. Since they’re more affordable than some other types of school supplies, donating writing instruments works if you’re on a budget.

Where to donate school supplies

Many schools are accepting donations of essential items for students and teachers. We list a few of these locations below, but keep in mind that there are many other organizations and businesses in communities across the country.

Local collections of school supplies

You can find school supply drives in many communities. These campaigns often take place just before the start of the school year in late summer or fall.

Keep an eye on your local grocery stores, libraries, retailers, community organizations and churches to find out how you can donate and what specific items they need. Homeless centers may also accept donations of school supplies for their residents who are students.

Your child’s class or school

If you have school-aged children or grandchildren, you may want to donate directly to their class or school. If you choose to do so, contact your child’s teacher for information on the supplies they need most.


Adoptaclassroom.org is a fundraising platform that teachers can use to raise money for much-needed school supplies. You can choose to donate money to a school, a teacher, or one of their Spotlight Funds. These funds provide grants for specific purposes, such as art or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).


Compudopt is an organization that collects, refurbishes and distributes gently used computers, monitors, keyboards and other equipment to children with limited financial resources. The association also accepts cash donations. A donation of $275 can provide a computer for a child. This organization serves communities in several states. If it doesn’t serve your area, you can check to see if you have a similar local organization to contact.

Computers with causes

Computers with Causes is an organization that provides free refurbished computers to low-income families and foster children. This organization does not limit its work to students. It also provides computers to disabled veterans, seniors, and nonprofits.

Children in Need Foundation

The Kids In Need Foundation provides students and teachers in underserved schools with school supplies. This organization works with businesses and other organizations to set up school supply fundraisers. It also works with local authorities and schools to help provide supplies to students who have been affected by natural disasters.

Plus, teachers can browse its searchable resource library to find informative lesson plans and activities for their students. You can choose to donate actual supplies or money.

Level the playing field

Leveling the Playing Field is an organization that collects gently used sports equipment and distributes it to schools, community programs, and organizations that provide services to disadvantaged youth. The organization has warehouses in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC. It also ships equipment to other regions. You can either donate materials or make a financial donation.

Operation Backpack

Operation Backpack is an initiative of Volunteers of America. This program provides backpacks full of school supplies to students in need. If you would like to support this program, you can make a monetary donation to help cover the costs of these items.

United Way

United Way accepts donations of school supplies for students in the organization’s local communities. The types of supplies United Way accepts depend on the needs of students in each respective community. For information on donations, contact your local United Way agency.

Global Computer Exchange

World Computer Exchange provides refurbished computers, tablets, digital cameras and other related equipment to students in 78 developing countries. You can find a local chapter and a list of acceptable donations on the organization’s website.

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