It’s backpack time! Where to find free bookbags or donate school supplies for Philly kids

From family-friendly giveaways to orgs looking for support, your guide to helping local students prepare for learning this fall.

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Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
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As back to school season approaches — alarmingly fast, as per usual — Philly kids in need of new backpacks or school supplies are in luck.

There are a number of opportunities to get bookbags packed with school supplies for free, hosted by organizations across the city and the School District of Philadelphia itself. And for people looking to contribute, there are also plenty of chances to do that.

Scroll down to find backpack drives Philly families can hit up this month, as well as a couple places folks can donate to help local students prepare to get back to learning this fall.

If you know of others, tell us at tips@billypenn.com.

Upcoming backpack giveaways

Philadelphia School District Back-to-School Bus Tour

Multiple locations
Multiple dates/times through Aug. 20

The district is embarking upon a bus tour through Philly neighborhoods this month, where families can get information on back-to-school season and register children for pre-K through 12th grade, as well as collect free backpacks and school supplies.

There are “mega-events” in some locations and shorter pop-ups in others. Some sites offer vaccinations and physicals as well, though parents should register their kids for those in advance.

Upcoming dates and locations include:

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10:  South Philadelphia Supersite, 1166 Bigler St. (mega-event)
  • 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12: Overbrook Education Center, 6722 Lansdowne Ave. (pop-up event)
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16: Edison High School Fields, 151 W. Luzerne St. (use Hunting Park Ave. entrance) (mega-event)
  • 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18: Hayes City Rec Center, 9800 Roosevelt Blvd. (pop-up event)
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20: High School of the Future, 4021 Parkside Ave. (mega-event)

Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground Annual Backpack Giveaway

6309 Germantown Ave.
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20

The 6300 Germantown Avenue Business Alliance and the Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground of Germantown plan to distribute 250 backpacks to families with kids — first come, first served.

Immortal Vision Studio Community Give-Back

400 E. Indiana Ave. (Hissey Playground)
2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20

Immortal Vision Studio, a recently-founded photography studio and event space, is hosting a “give-back” as part of its Community Weekend. It’s slated to include a back-to-school drive giving away backpacks, notebooks, pencils, paper, lunch boxes, and other supplies, per the Eventbrite page.

Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Library Community Fair

5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway (Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Library)
2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24

The Cobbs Creek branch of the Free Library will host a fair with activities, giveaways, free books and refreshments, and yes, free backpacks and school supplies. Attendees will also be able to pick up kits for job seekers, get info about Medicare, and talk to folks from community organizations.

Greater Enon Missionary Baptist Church Back-to-School Free Backpack Giveaway

1854 N. 22nd St.
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27

Greater Enon Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of 22nd and Berks plans to distribute bookbags packed with school supplies to families, according to the church’s Facebook page, and they’ll be taking donations until a week before the event.

Gentle Gratitude “Refuel for School” School Supplies Giveaway

6401 Elmwood Ave. (Connell Park)
1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 27

Local mutual aid group Gentle Gratitude is hosting an event where they’ll distribute free school supplies, fresh produce, and barbecue to students getting ready for the new school year.

If you’re interested in donating to the drive: You can buy something from the group’s Target registry or contact one of the group’s founders by Instagram DM or phone. Mariposa Food Co-Op (4824 Baltimore Ave.) is accepting donation drop-offs until Aug. 22, and Lather Hair Studio (2736 W. Girard Ave.) has a drop box too.

Milano Di Rouge Annual Back to School Drive

1509 Spring Garden Ave.
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28

Philly-based fashion brand Milano Di Rouge announced a free back-to-school event at its physical location on Spring Garden Street, where the company plans to hand out 500 free backpacks filled with school supplies.

Other places you can donate

Women Against Abuse Backpack Drive

100 S. Broad St., Suite 1341
Drop off 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11 — or donate online

Center City-based nonprofit Women Against Abuse is seeking backpacks filled with newly purchased school supplies, like pens, crayons, calculators, hand sanitizer, child-sized masks, or construction paper for children from families who’ve fled violent homes. You can drop the bags off at the org’s office on Thursday afternoon, or send them something from an Amazon wishlist.

ACHIEVEability 2022 Backpack Drive

5901 Market St., Suite 410
Sign up to donate by Monday, Aug. 15

ACHIEVEability, a nonprofit that works to combat generational poverty in West Philly, is seeking donors to sponsor over 650 kids in getting new sets of supplies before the school year kicks off. Until Monday, the organization is looking for backpacks, pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, and other school supplies to distribute to the children in mid-August. Donor signup is at this form.

Valley Youth House Backpack Challenge

1500 Sansom St., Suite 300
Runs through Wednesday, Aug. 31

Local nonprofit Valley Youth House has partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services to fundraise for and collect school and dorm essentials for young people in foster care who are part of the city’s Achieving Independence Center and getting ready to head off to college. The org accepts in-kind donations like Chromebooks, sheets, gift cards, or cleaning supplies, as well as monetary donations toward care packages, textbooks, or tuition assistance.

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