In Indiana, many public schools open their doors for the first day of school in late July and early August. The Salvation Army is helping parents send their kids back to school with all the supplies they need to have a successful school year. Across the state, we’re collecting backpacks, school supplies, shoes, uniforms, and more to help out families in need.

Getting a back-to-school hair cut

According the the annual Huntington Bank Backpack Index, the cost of back-to-school supplies has nearly doubled over the last decade. During the 2016-2017 school year, parents could expect to pay $659 for each elementary age child, $957 for each middle school child, and $1,498 for each high school child. Between classroom supplies and extracurricular activity fees, these costs can be insurmountable for families already on tight budgets.

In Indianapolis, we offer several back-to-school programs that help to ease this financial burden. This Saturday, The Salvation Army Fountain Square Corps Community Center will host its 4th Annual Back to School Community Fun Day. Students in the two zip codes that make up the Fountain Square neighborhood can come to the community center with their parents to enjoy free activities like games, face painting, or even haircuts courtesy of PJ’s School of Cosmetology. As they leave, each child receives a backpack filled with grade-appropriate school supplies and a new IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools) uniform shirt.

A girl picks out new shoes in Indianapolis

Next week, children from across the city will receive new shoes at our annual shoe event, which is made possible by the generosity of a very special donor. Mrs. Lewis was an orphan, and spent her childhood in ill-fitting and worn shoes. Each year, she provides the funds for 350 children in the most need to be fitted with brand new tennis shoes for the new school year. Children in Salvation Army day camp and shelter programs, as well as those identified by local schools, also take home new socks to complete their look. Thanks to Mrs. Lewis, these children won’t have to start the school year in last year’s worn and too-small shoes.

Through the month of July, The Salvation Army Bloomington Corps Community Center is collecting school supplies to fill 600 backpacks before the first day of school. With collection sites across the city, they hope to fill every backpack with binders, pencils, folders, index cards, notebooks, markers, crayons, and much more.

School supplies ready for packing in Whitley County

In Warsaw, The Salvation Army gives out shoe vouchers to families in need. This effort has a long history in the Northern Indiana city and has helped thousands of children show up on the first day of school in brand new shoes.

Tools for Schools is a popular Salvation Army program that collects and distributes school supplies across Indiana. In Fort Wayne, The Salvation Army partners with WANE-TV to promote the collection. Bins in Walgreens and other local businesses collect everything from new backpacks and protractors to hand sanitizer and tissues.

In Southern Indiana, Jefferson County’s Back to School Distribution is hosted by The Salvation Army, Aaron’s, and the local Boys & Girls Club. Families in need fill out an online form and collect their school supplies on July 19. Free haircuts are also provided and any child who needs a dental check up can receive a free exam at The Salvation Army’s Helping Hands Dental Clinic.

You can learn more about The Salvation Army’s back-to-school programs by visiting your local corps’ Facebook page or website. We are always looking for volunteers to help collect, sort, pack, and distribute back to school supplies, so please let your local corps officers know if you are interested in lending a hand. Together, we can help Hoosier students start the school year off prepared, confident, and ready to excel!