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Where to get free school supplies in (mostly North) Philly, plus where to donate school supplies, too

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Aug. 11, 2022, and updated on Aug. 24, 2022. 

As summer festivities begin to wind down, families are preparing for the start of a new school year. But inflation and supply chain issues could make back-to-school shopping more of a burden than usual.

According to the Associated Press, experts predict that families will spend 7.5% more on back-to-school supplies for the upcoming school year than last summer. For example, backpack prices alone are up nearly 12%. Meanwhile, inflation is affecting some families’ school spending more than others. One survey found that more than half of families are planning to cut back on spending on back-to-school shopping.

However, many organizations in Philadelphia are throwing back-to-school events to ease the process for students and families this month. Here’s a list of where you can grab free school supplies and resources in Kensington and in other Philly neighborhoods, too.

Where to get free school supplies in (mostly North) Philly

Friday, Aug. 12


Esperanza is a faith-based nonprofit serving Latino communities in Philadelphia. 

They are hosting their event, Stop the Violence, Start the J.O.Y (Job Opportunity Youth) on Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4261 N. 5th Street. In addition to school supplies, the event will provide job and training opportunities, snacks, and games. School supplies are first come, first served. If you’re looking for job opportunities, they recommend bringing a resume. 

For more information, call 215-324-0746.

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. You can drop off donations at the PACareer CareerLink Center or in Esperanza’s main lobby at 4261 N. 5th Street until the event.

Saturday, Aug. 13

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse provides educational, recreational, cultural, and economic services in the Kensington area. 

The organization is hosting its first Back-to-School Bash to distribute supplies at the Lighthouse Sports and Entertainment Complex at 199 E. Erie Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The Spanish American Law Enforcement Association will be providing haircuts for youth at this event as well. 

Interested vendors can sign up here

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. You can drop off donations at the organization’s sports complex from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until the event. 

Wednesday, Aug. 17

The North 5th Street Revitalization Project (N5SRP)

N5SRP promotes North 5th Street in Olney as a flourishing business district by providing business services and community programming. 

The organization is hosting a Back to School giveaway on Aug. 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Island Taste located at 5518 N. 5th Street. 

Children must be present to receive more than one backpack. If no child is present, parents can only receive one. 

For more information, email or message their Instagram

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. You can drop off donations at Greater Olney Library at 5501 N. 5th Street or at Island Taste. 

Thursday, Aug. 18

Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM)

APM provides basic social services for Philadelphians, primarily the Latino community. 

The organization is hosting a Back-To-School BBQ at Kensington Health Sciences Academy located at 2463 Emerald Street on Thursday, Aug. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Organizers will be giving away free books, supplies, diapers, food, and personal protective equipment. 

For more information, call 267-922-4981.

Are they accepting school supply donations?
No, they are not accepting donations at this time. 

Saturday, Aug. 20

The Block Gives Back

The Block Gives Back is a Tacony-based nonprofit that leads community cleanups, food distributions, and community Peace & Play Days across Philadelphia. 

The group is hosting their Block-to-School school supplies event on Aug. 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6800 Torresdale Ave. Each backpack will include four notebooks, four folders, six pencils, one pencil case, one glue stick, one ruler, one box of crayons, and hand sanitizer. Backpacks will only be given out to children that are present. 

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. They are collecting supplies until Aug. 13. To donate, drop off items at 6831 Torresdale Ave. between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can also send a cash donation using the following payment apps:

Immortal Vision Studio

Immortal Vision Studio is a creative space based in Kensington. 

The studio is hosting its annual community weekend on Aug. 20. The Community Give-Back will have a back-to-school drive, food giveaways, and more. The event will take place at Hissey Playground at 400 E. Indiana Ave. from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Are they accepting school supply donations?
No, they are no longer accepting donations at this time. You can still sign up to volunteer for the event here.

Safe Hub 

Safehub provides after-school soccer programming for Philadelphia youth. 

The organization will distribute 700 backpacks filled with school supplies at their Back-to-School Party on Saturday, Aug. 20 at Scanlon Recreation Center located at 1099 E. Venango Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can also attend a carnival on the field and enjoy free food, a gaming truck, music, and more. 

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. Specifically, they still need school supplies, sponsors, partners, volunteers, and on-field activities for the event. You can drop off donations at their office through Aug. 12. If you have any questions or would like to contribute, email Jacqui D’Anneo at

Thursday, Aug. 25

Ride Free Org

Ride Free hosts pop-up shops with local businesses, community concerts, shop classes, and free studio space for people to produce music. 

Ride Free is hosting a Back to School Party on Aug. 25 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at their space at 1952 E. Allegheny Ave. There will be free school supplies and live music. 

Are they accepting school supply donations?

Yes, they are accepting donations, which can be dropped off at their space leading up to the event. 

For more information, send a message to their Instagram

Friday, Aug. 26

Norris Square Community Alliance (NSCA)

NSCA serves the Norris Square neighborhood with services surrounding affordable housing, employment training, early childhood education, and more. 

The nonprofit is hosting a backpack giveaway in partnership with the law firm Nochumson and some other community organizations on Friday, Aug. 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 2032 Mascher Street. The event will be complete with music, books, and resources. 

For more information, call 215-426-8734. 

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. You can drop off donations at their main office at 174 Diamond Street. 

Saturday, Aug. 27

Gentle Gratitude

Gentle Gratitude is a mutual aid organization serving low-income communities throughout Philadelphia.

The group is hosting a Refuel for School giveaway and cookout on Aug. 27 from 1  p.m. to 4 p.m. at Connell Park located at 6401 Elmwood Ave. They will also distribute fresh produce.

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations. To make a donation, you can visit a donation box at Mariposa Co-op or Lather Hair Studio, contact to schedule a drop-off, or make a purchase from their Target registry. 

The Future is Us Collective, Black Hippie Art Collective, and The Clay Studio

The Future is Us Collective (TFIU) is a visual arts collective serving youth and young adults. Black Hippie Art Collective centers Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) creatives and entrepreneurs and provides a platform for them to be successful. The Clay Studio is an art space that hosts programs and displays clay artwork. 

TFIU and Black Hippie Art Collective’s annual Back 2 School Drive will be hosted at The Clay Studio’s new location at 1425 N. American St. from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting both school and art supplies. The organizers request gently used art supplies, books, pencils, masks, and nonperishable foods. Donations can be dropped off at TFIU’s studio at 1417 N. 2nd St. To schedule a drop-off time before Aug. 27, contact Laila at 215-880-8563. You can also drop off donations at The Clay Studio before the event on Aug. 27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Monetary donations are being accepted through the following platforms:

August 2022: By appointment only

The Simple Way

The Simple Way is a small, community organization that provides support services for community members through food distribution, home repair, assisting people recovering from addiction, and more.

The Simple Way is distributing school supplies for families in need now until they run out of supplies, starting the last week of August. Community members can visit the Simple Way to make an appointment for a shopping time slot by visiting 3432 Potter Street or calling 215-423-3598.

Are they accepting school supply donations?
Yes, they are accepting donations If you would like to donate to the school supply drive, click here. They will collect donations until Aug. 19.

Who and what are we missing? 

Did we miss an event or organization that should be on this list? Email us ASAP at and we’ll add it to our list! 

Editors: Jillian Bauer-Reese / Designer: Jillian Bauer-Reese

Kensington Voice is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly.