Girl Scout, Cristabella Camarena (center) hands a free backpack to patrons of the Badges and Backpacks Fair at Tucson Convention Center in 2019. The sheriff's department will be hosting four smaller drive through distribution events this year. 

Editor's note: This story was last updated on Aug. 4 to reflect the new location for the Arizona Bilingual Kidz Expo.

Organizations are getting creative this year to give backpacks and school supplies to Tucson students and teachers by hosting drive-thru events or distributing gift cards.  

Check out these four ways to get free school supplies. 

For students

Pima County Sheriff’s Department Badges & Backpacks is one of several annual back-to-school traditions that has become a low-touch, drive-thru event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take place at four local high schools.

Badges and Backpacks

What: The Pima County Sheriff's Department has turned its annual Badges and Backpacks event into a series of smaller drive up events at four different locations to distribute 2,000 free backpacks stuffed with school supplies and other items. There will be 500 backpacks distributed at each site and school-age children must be present to receive a backpack. There will also be a walk-up station at each site for anyone who is walking, biking or using public transportation. Masks will be required for anyone picking up a backpack who is not in a vehicle. 

Details: Distribution at each location will happen from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. or until supplies run out.

More info: Go here

Arizona Bilingual Kidz Expo & Back-to-School Event

What: 3,000 backpacks will be distributed to children ages 4-14 at this drive-thru event which will also have live entertainment, raffles and resources from other vendors. Everyone is asked to remain in their vehicles and wear a mask when interacting with volunteers and vendors. 

When: Saturday, Aug. 15, 9-11 a.m.  

Where: El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, 101 W. Irvington Road

More info: Go here

For teachers

Tucson Values Teachers 

Teachers can sign up for a chance to receive an Jonathan's Educational Resources gift certificate or Amazon gift card to use toward school supplies from Tucson Values Teachers. Teachers can register here

The number of cards that will be distributed depends on the donations Tucson Values Teachers receives for this program. Donations can be made here

Four Peaks for Teachers

Tempe-based Four Peaks Brewing Company is giving away 1,100 supply kits to teachers in Tucson. Kits include commonly requested items like staplers, scissors, pencils and paper. 

Teachers are asked to fill out a short questionnaire to reserve a kit and they will be given a voucher to pick it up during a designated date and time in mid-August. 


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