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Red backpack school supplies

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United Way Tools For School

Annual School Supplies Drive

For ALICE and poverty-level families struggling to afford the basics, providing necessary school supplies can be a financial hardship. The pandemic has hit these families hardest and the need for help has significantly increased. United Way Tools for School is an annual school supplies drive that helps ensure students receive the tools needed for learning. On average, more than 70,000 items are collected by participating organizations and volunteers and distributed to more than 60 schools and community organizations serving children.


Donate Items

Purchase much-needed supplies online through YouGiveGoods, an organization United Way has partnered with for this drive. You can buy backpacks, supplies, and pre-filled backpacks for a specific county, school, or organization within our regional footprint. Items are then delivered directly to United Way. You can also organize a virtual drive or join one! To get started, click here.


To shop for and provide backpacks on your own, click here.

Donate Money

Donate via our secure online payment system:

Or checks can be sent to:

United Way of Northern New Jersey
PO Box 6835
Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Note: Make checks payable to “United Way of Northern New Jersey” with “Tools for School” on the memo line.

Organize A Drive

Ask friends, family, and neighbors to donate supplies from the list below. Then, fill age-appropriate, new backpacks with the needed supplies and drop them by Monday, August 8, 2022 at United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Somerset County office at 55 North Gaston Avenue in Somerville. You can also choose to collect backpacks or individual supplies.


To make other arrangements for dropping off collected supplies, please email Lisa Galonardo or call 973.993.1160, x503.

List of supplies for elementary backpacks:

  • 1 1-inch binder

  • 4 pocket folders

  • 2 spiral, wide-ruled notebooks

  • 8-pack of washable magic markers

  • 1 washable glue stick

  • 2 wide-ruled, composition notebooks

  • 12-count box of No. 12 pencils

  • 1 pencil bag with grommets

  • 1 pink beveled eraser

  • 1 pencil sharpener

  • 1 yellow highlighter

  • 1 standard ruler

  • Pair of 5-inch blunt scissors

  • 1 pack of crayons

List of supplies for middle/high school backpacks:

  • 1 1½-inch binder

  • 4 pocket folders

  • 4 spiral, college-ruled notebooks

  • 1 package college-ruled, filler paper

  • 1 pack of notebook dividers

  • 12-count box of No. 12 pencils

  • 1 pencil bag with grommets

  • 1 pink beveled eraser

  • 1 pencil sharpener

  • 4-pack (or more) of pens

  • 1 pack of colored pencils

  • 2 yellow highlighters

  • 1 pack of fine-tip markers

  • 12-inch standard/metric plastic ruler

Other needed items are masks, tissues, hand sanitizer, calculators, and index cards. In addition, school nurses have asked for personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant and kindergarten and first grade-aged children’s underwear and socks. Gift cards that can be used to purchase items such as shoes and clothing are also appreciated.


Make a difference by volunteering your time to sort through donated supplies. To find a location in our five-county footprint, click here. You can also collect school supplies and backpacks instead of birthday gifts, run a drive with friends and neighbors, promote a drive online or via social media, or engage your work colleagues. If you have any questions or need help, email Lisa Galonardo, or call 973.993.1160, x503.

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