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The poverty rate for children under age 18 in the U.S. rose from 14.4% in 2019 to 16.1% in 2020, according to the Census Bureau, leaving many families with school-aged children on a tight budget. In fact, according to a survey by Lending Tree, 29% of parents claim that they can’t afford to buy 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 will discuss where to donate school supplies and why you should.
Why Should You Consider Donating School Supplies?
Every year, some parents struggle to purchase essential school supplies for their children. As a result, children may begin the school year without enough school supplies, which often leaves teachers to fill in the gap.
A 2021 National Center for Education Statistics survey of U.S. teachers found that 94% of public school teachers paid 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 to purchase supplies for their classrooms during the 2020-21 school year.
For 30% of the teachers surveyed, that cost reached $1,000 or more. In addition, teachers spent an average of $160 on personal protective equipment and cleaning products due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Depending on where you donate school supplies, your donation may be tax-deductible. Check with an organization to see if your donation can be considered a charitable contribution.
When you donate school supplies, you help students obtain the tools they need to learn throughout the school year. You can also help relieve some of the stress and financial burdens that have consistently fallen on teachers.
Below is information on where to donate school supplies and what supplies are in demand.
Top School Supplies to Donate
If you’re looking for school supplies donation ideas, read on for common items that teachers and students use in their classrooms.
Art supplies, such as construction paper, crayons, glue and other consumable items are staples in many pre-K and elementary classrooms, so they are always needed.
Every child needs a backpack to carry books and supplies to and from school. Good quality backpacks can be pricey, so some families may struggle to afford durable backpacks for their children. When properly taken care of, backpacks may last for more than one school year, so students can get a lot of use out of them.
While calculators are available on smartphones, not every student has a smartphone, and schools may not allow students to use their phones during class. Different types of calculators serve different purposes, so while a young student can get by with a basic one, a high school student may need a more advanced (and expensive) calculator.
If you are donating calculators to a specific class or school, check first to find out what type of calculators would be appropriate.
Hygiene and Cleaning Products
Facial tissues, paper towels, antibacterial wipes, antibacterial sprays and hand sanitizers are necessities in any classroom. Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces in classrooms is an essential step in keeping classrooms clean and preventing diseases like COVID-19, the flu or the common cold from spreading.
Laptops and Tablets
Donating a laptop or tablet can provide access to technology for a child whose family has limited financial resources. Check local organizations for those that accept gently used computer equipment or funds to purchase this equipment and donate it to local schools. These organizations may consider certain computers too old or outdated, so make sure to check any requirements before you donate.
School supplies may vary by grade, but students of every age use notebooks. These come in handy for writing first drafts, tracking data in a science experiment and everything in between.
Some schools accept sports equipment donations to use during recess periods and physical education classes. Since schools may use specific types of sports equipment, you should check with a school before purchasing items to donate.
You can never have too many pencils, highlighters, pens or markers in a classroom, so writing instruments are excellent items to donate. Since these are more affordable than some other types of school supplies, donating writing instruments works if you’re sticking to a budget.
Where to Donate School Supplies
Lots of schools accept donations of essential items for students and teachers. We list a few such places below, but keep in mind that there are many more organizations and businesses in communities across the country.
Local School Supply Drives
You can find school supply drives in many communities. These drives often take place just before school starts in the late summer or fall.
Keep an eye out at your local grocery stores, libraries, retailers, community organizations and churches for information on how you can donate and what specific items they need. Homeless centers may also accept school supply donations for their residents who are students.
Your Child’s Classroom or School
If you have school-aged children or grandchildren, you may want to donate directly to their classroom or school. If you choose to do this, contact your child’s teacher for information on what supplies they need the most.
Adoptaclassroom.org is a fundraising platform that teachers can use to raise money for much-needed classroom supplies. You can choose to donate money to a specific school, teacher or one of its spotlight funds. These funds provide grant money for specific purposes, such as art or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Compudopt is an organization that collects, refurbishes and distributes gently used computers, monitors, keyboards and other equipment to children who have limited financial resources. The organization also accepts financial donations. A $275 donation can provide a child with a computer. 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 you could contact.
Computers with Causes
Computers with Causes is an organization that provides free, refurbished computers to low-income families and foster children. This organization doesn’t limit its work to students. It also provides computers to disabled veterans, seniors and nonprofit organizations.
Kids In Need Foundation
Kids In Need Foundation provides students and teachers in underserved schools with school supplies. This organization collaborates with companies and other organizations to establish school supply fundraisers. It also works with local authorities and schools to help provide supplies to students who have been affected by natural disasters.
In addition, teachers can peruse its searchable resource library to find informative lesson plans and activities for their students. You can choose to donate actual supplies or money.
Leveling 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 under-resourced youth. The organization has warehouses in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It also ships equipment to other areas. You can either donate equipment or make a financial donation.
Operation Backpack is an initiative of Volunteers of America. This program provides backpacks filled with 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 accepts school supplies donations for students in the organization’s local communities. The types of supplies that United Way accepts depends on students’ needs in each respective community. For donation information, contact your local United Way organization.
World 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.