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It’s Back-to-School time, which means the kids will finally be out of the house during the day. YAY!!! (said every mom everywhere.) But sending the kids to school often means new clothes, new shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and of course school supplies. That’s a lot of purchases for a military family to make on one paycheck. Luckily for you, I have found some amazing offers for FREE back to school supplies that will help military families go back to school for a lot less.

Free school supplies for military kids

Free School Supplies from Operation Homefront: The Back to School brigades from Operation Homefront are beginning across the country! These events have been happening every summer for the past 10 years. Search for a giveaway location near you. Military kids can receive free backpacks, school supplies, and clothing at some locations. You must create a profile and register to receive supplies at their events.

Free clothes and shoes from the Assistance League: The Assistance League is a national program with 120 chapters. Each chapter works to serve their local community, which in some locations includes military bases. Their Operation School Bell clothes 300,000 children annually! At back-to-school time, they provide 2 outfits, a jacket, socks, underwear, and a hygiene bag to every child. They also include a gift card for new school shoes! All four of my children were able to participate in their giveaway this year, and we were blown away by the generosity. I almost cried when they handed me the gift cards for shoes. The volunteers were so kind and generous, and they were very well-organized. We really appreciate everything they do for our military children.

Backpack Giveaway: Each year, numerous churches and charity organizations offer free backpacks and school supplies to military kids. If you hear about a backpack giveaway near your base, it’s worth your time to go to it. The free school supplies will certainly help teachers, and may save you cash. If you homeschool or don’t have school-aged children, you may still be welcome at the event. You can always donate the supplies to your base school. They will certainly be put to good use.

back to school supplies for military kids

Bike Giveaway: Many military children live close enough to school that they could walk or bike each day. But not every child has their own bike. The USO wants to change that. Their program Bikes4Marines and Navy gives away free bikes for military kids on Navy and Marine Corps bases. Apply through the local USO, or contact your FRG (Family Readiness Group) for more info. You can also read my post about unusual things military families get for free, which has even more cool items, from bikes to diapers to swim lessons.

Military kids can get these free school supplies for back to school.

Free School Lunch program: In many areas, military children qualify for free school lunch programs at public schools. Some schools offer free school breakfast too! This saves our family of six hundreds of dollars every year. And the lunches are fairly healthy with fruit, whole wheat, and salads offered daily. Qualifying families are determined by family size compared to household income. In our area, most enlisted households meet the requirements, as long as the non-military spouse does not have a full-time job. Check at the front desk of your child’s school office for an application. They will need the service member’s recent LES (Leave and Earnings Statement) to determine if you qualify.

This is how military kids can get FREE stuff for back-to-school! Click To Tweet

Amazon Prime: When you run out of time, Amazon Prime to the rescue. You can find everything on their site. Search sports equipment, clothes, shoes, lunch boxes, desk organizers, and electronics. Check out these cool offers (affiliate links): a Student Planner that your kids will love as much as you love yours. Or a desk organizer that will keep their homework space clean and ready for creativity. There are plenty of other great deals on Amazon.

I hope this makes your Back-to-School season a little easier and a lot more affordable!


  1. Tara Hatfield

    My name is Tara I have 5 school aged children and I need help with school supplies this year. I take care of my grandparents full time so I can’t always make it to functions etc. Any thing at this point would help and will be very much appreciated. I live off of very little at the moment.

    • Lizann

      Hi Tara! A lot of organizations are doing drive-through school supply giveaways this year, if you are able to drive on base and wait in your car in a line. Check with your local USO or base Family Center for event details near you.
      Army Emergency Relief (AER) offers $500 grants for school supplies to families in need. If your service member isn’t in the Army, the other branches have similar emergency funds they can release, but it may be a loan instead of a grant, which is slowly repaid from the service member’s paycheck. Please contact your branch’s aid society for amounts and details.

  2. Arthur Lee Gissendanner

    I have 3 school age kids that need help with school supplies this year age 11 age7 and age 3

  3. Camille Deal

    Another way to get free school supplies is to look on Ibotta. There are a number of coupons on there right now that make things essentially free! I know I saw something for a notebook, some fruit cups, hand sanitizer and a box of tissues.

  4. Timothy

    I have to 2 school kids age 12 an 16 and they need school supplies


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