State’s largest back-to-school clothing drive takes place July 23-27

The Back to School Clothing Drive serving hundreds of Title 1 students and children in foster care, will hold its annual event later this month at Grand Canyon University.

The Back to School Clothing Drive, Arizona’s largest provider of uniforms, clothing, backpacks and school supplies to more than 25,000 Title I elementary-school students at over 260 Maricopa County schools, is gearing up for the 2018 event, July 23-27 at Grand Canyon University Arena, 3300 W. Camelback Road in Phoenix.

Among sponsors already committed to the event are BHHS Legacy Foundation, Bank of America, Arizona’s Family 3TV and CBS5, Discover, Grand Canyon University, and Fiesta Bowl Charities.

More than 5,000 K-6 pre-registered students attend the annual week-long New Clothes, New Beginnings event.  Back to School Clothing Drive has expanded its outreach and impact this year through collaborations with organizations serving children in foster care and homeless children including Arizona Helping Hands, Arizona Friends of Foster Families and Children First Academy.

All students are pre-selected, pre-registered by their schools and bused to Grand Canyon University Arena, which is transformed into a large “department store.” Each student is assigned a personal shopper to help select a new wardrobe, including two pairs of shorts, two polo shirts, a sweatshirt, one belt, three pairs of socks and underwear, one pair of sneakers, a backpack filled with school supplies, hand-made items sewn by a Stitches-of-Love volunteer, dozens of school supplies and personal hygiene items.

Each child takes home approximately $350 worth of merchandise, at no cost to them, totaling $1.8 million by the end of the week.

“We believe the impact we make is just the beginning,” said Executive Director Karl Gentles.  “Our ambition is to move beyond just school uniforms and supplies to help break down those systemic barriers students face in their pathway to early school and childhood success.”

Founded in 1967, Back to School Clothing Drive distributes items through its signature programs, the “New Clothes, New Beginnings” clothing distribution and Student Attire for Education (SAFE), with support from more than 2,500 volunteers to children whose families are at or below the federal poverty level, approximately $30,000 annual income for a family of four.

“For five decades, Back to School Clothing Drive has helped break down barriers to early childhood success for students from kindergarten through sixth grade who desperately need new school uniforms and outfits, backpacks and school supplies,” Mr. Gentles said.  “Our products may be school uniforms and supplies, but we deliver self-esteem, self-confidence and a successful start to school for thousands of students.”

For more information about Back to School Clothing Drive, visit or call 602-256-9408.

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