We can all agree that the 2020-2021 school year was just plain strange and different. While 2021-2022 may be different as well, we can all prepare for school in its many forms. Military families can prepare for school within budget thanks to some freebies available specifically for school.
Operation Homefront partners with Dollar Tree to collect school supplies for military children. There are various back-to-school events throughout the country providing free school supplies to military children. Registration is open for events happening now through September for any DEERS enrolled military dependent from Kindergarten through 12th grade. There are eligibility requirements of being an E1-E6 active duty family member or Post 9/11 wounded, ill, or injured service member of any rank either currently or no longer serving the military. Check the requirements for events in your area.
Assistance Leagues have chapters across the United States and often hold programs like Operation School Bell providing free school supplies and clothing to their community. Some Assistance Leagues specifically hold these programs on base. Check with your local unit or local base social media page to watch for an announcement of such a program. They usually occur the month before school begins.
If there is a USO branch near you, check to see if there is a school supply giveaway.
Check your base social media page for giveaways that may be hosted by local churches for free school supplies or backpack giveaways. These giveaways are often not limited by where the child goes to school and may even be extended to military families who homeschool.
Free for all: The Ibotta app has offered some free supplies this school year through their application. Go onto their website to create an account and log in to select the free items. The items offered on the app until they reach threshold (which is not shared): one Five Star Notebook, Nature’s Own Bread, Skippy Peanut Butter, Smucker’s Squeeze Fruit Spread, Ticonderoga #2 Pencils, Crayola Crayons, and Pink Pearl Paper Mater Eraser.
Tax-Free days are offered in many states in August for purchases of clothing, school supplies, and computers, and vary by state. Saving on taxes can add up when you are making big school purchases.
Clothing companies offer a military discount in their stores all year long – Kohls (on Military Monday), Old Navy (in stores only), L.L. Bean (online and in-store), and North Face (online with SheerID and in-store). Get your kicks with these shoe companies offering discounts – Asics, Reebok, and Zappos. Check out more yearlong discount list here.
If a computer is on your list for school supplies this year, Dell and Apple offer discounts. Don’t forget the military exchange as a place to purchase a computer tax-free!
Back to school time is a time of gathering more supplies and information for the upcoming school year. With many military families who have moved dealing with the cost of moving or the indecision of what school to go to, the cost of school supplies can be lowered with these giveaways and discounts. May this school year be enjoyable for all!