School Supply Drives Get Santa Barbara Students Outfitted Ahead of Return to Classroom

More Than 300 Free Backpacks Stocked with Supplies to Be Handed Out at Ortega Park on Saturday

The organizers and volunteers of last year's school supply drive distributed nearly 300 backpacks filled with school supplies to local students. | Credit: Ryan P. Cruz (file)

Parents preparing to send their children back to school will have opportunities to receive free clothing and school supplies from numerous organizations, including at school supply drives taking place this Saturday. 

Some groups, such as People’s Pantry, Catholic Charities, and Unity Shoppe, provide food, clothing, and other supplies year-round, while others organize large drives in the weeks preceding the beginning of the school year. 

One supply drive — organized by community members, the Santa Barbara High School Ethnics Studies Club, and the Ortega Park Youth Brigade — is set to take place at Ortega Park on Saturday, August 13, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. This will be the third annual school supply drive at the park, and the groups have raised more than $3,600 to purchase more than 300 backpacks with school supply kits, including high school and elementary-aged school kits.

For children and families within the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County (HACSB), the group will also hold its own drive for free backpacks and school supplies on Saturday. This drive, however, is not open to the general public. To register, contact Leticia Zuniga at (805) 897-1059 or or Hector Avila at (805) 897-1044 or

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The Independent has also compiled a list of locations that provide free clothing, as seen below:

Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara County

609 E. Haley St., (805) 965-7045

Open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday

Catholic Charities is a nonprofit organization that provides numerous services to those in need, including food, clothing, thrift vouchers, and financial and medical assistance. 

Isla Vista Free Box

961 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista

Isla Vista Free Box is an open-exchange item box where items such as clothing, shoes, and other necessities are left by residents that no longer need them and are free for anyone to take. 

People’s Pantry

First Christian Church/The Way Collective, 1915 Chapala St.

Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.

People’s Pantry is a metal filing cabinet full of shelf-stable items. In the top drawer are hygienic items and school supplies, in the middle drawer are shelf-stable food items, and in the bottom drawer, there are clothing and shelter items.

Unity Shoppe

1401 Chapala St., (805) 965-4122

Open 10 a.m-5 p.m., Monday-Friday

Unity Shoppe is a local nonprofit organization that provides perishable and nonperishable food, clothing, furniture, kitchen essentials, and school supplies. 

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